Bully Bird

Today’s been a funny one, on the birding front. On the positive side, I had black-capped chickadees round my feeder for the first time ever, this afternoon. On the not-so-positive side, an aggressive sparrow flew in and pecked their heads. It also pecked a house finch, a pigeon, and several other sparrows, at various points throughout the day. You’d think the bully bird would be a male, but it’s a loud, bloodthirsty little female, which seems to think it’s a shrike. Maybe it’s auditioning potential mates, and beating up the ones it doesn’t fancy. Or maybe it’s simply a birdie curmudgeon, on a tear. (Do birds have individual personalities, to that extent? Can they be disagreeable? I certainly wouldn’t want to get on this one’s bad side. At one point, it had another sparrow’s face pinched firmly in its beak, and wouldn’t let go, even when the victim tried repeatedly to take to the air. It left a nasty cut beneath the finch’s eye, and took a feather from the pigeon. The chickadees ignored it, and kept feeding.)

I tried to get pictures of an epic sparrowfight which broke out just after lunch, but the combatants kept falling off the railings and rolling about in the weeds; conditions were hardly optimal. There were three or four males standing about, apparently enjoying the spectacle, while the bully bird picked on her latest target. At one point, she forgot which sparrow she was trouncing, and went for a different one, which promptly flew off shrieking.

This little sparrow looks like butter wouldn't melt in her beak.  Looks can be deceptive.

This little sparrow looks like butter wouldn’t melt in her beak. Looks can be deceptive.

You'd think the angry-looking sparrow puffing himself up on the...eh, thing -- what is that?  Some sort of outdoor cooking device? -- anyway, you'd think he'd be the bully bird.  But he's the bullied bird.

You’d think the angry-looking sparrow puffing himself up on the…eh, thing — what is that? Some sort of outdoor cooking device? — anyway, you’d think he’d be the bully bird. But he’s the bullied bird.

For all his masculine posturing, this sparrow didn't stand a chance.

For all his masculine posturing, this sparrow didn’t stand a chance.

On a much quieter note, I found a pair of mallards, on my afternoon walk. They were splashing about in the fountain across the way, but they got out when I approached.

A pair of mallards, out for a stroll.

A pair of mallards, out for a stroll.

And here are some flowers, because I know Mother’s reading:

What are these?  They're quite appealing.

What are these? They’re quite appealing.

I think this one's a camellia.

I think this one’s a camellia.

I was tempted to pick one, but I'm not sure that's allowed.

I was tempted to pick one, but I’m not sure that’s allowed.

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