Don’t let a foraging falcon ruffle your feathers

I have a bird feeder that I have kept reasonably full. Recently a falcon has taken up residence in the tree above the feeder. There’s evidence it has been successful – and there doesn’t seem to be any pigeons around anymore. So here’s the question: Is it morally or ethically permissible to keep feeding the birds knowing it has become a feeder for the falcon? On the other hand, isn’t everyone entitled to make a living – just trying to do the right thing?

A similar quandary came up while filling the Action Line bird feeder.

Instead of a magnificent bird of prey taking up residence, a flock of obnoxious starlings and bunch of Eurasian collared doves have settled in.

These pesky “bad” birds chase away the pretty “good” birds such as goldfinches and grosbeaks.

Action Line likes to watch birds. So does Mrs. Action Line. But Mrs. Action Line is more accepting of less-desirable feathered friends showing up at the seed tray.

“When you open an all-you-can-eat buffet, you can’t be selective who comes to the table,” she said while watching a feeding frenzy.

“But what about when restaurants have a sign at the door stating, ‘No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service?’ How about, ‘No starlings.’”

“Birds can’t read,” retorted Mrs. Action Line without missing a beat.

Having attracted a falcon to your backyard is quite the feather in your cap, so to speak. Hundred of local bird fans would love to host such a cool carnivorous creature.

“Fantastic!” said Kristi Streiffert, owner of For the Birds, the backyard nature shop and purveyor of all things ornithological.

But don’t think you are creating a death trap for the little birds, she said. “It’s the circle of life.”

“The smaller birds definitely know there is a falcon there,” Kristi said. “Whether singing in a tree or eating at a feeder, their world is never free of predators.”

By all means, continue feeding the birds. But remember to bring in your feeders at night.

Attracting chickadees to your home is one thing. Attracting bears is quite another. And the presence of a falcon will do little to deter a marauding bruin.

durango colorado

Last week’s column on the Durango Dictionary inspired loyal reader Bill Bowlby to add a new term to the local lexicon. Meanwhile, our good friend and reluctant expatriate Galloway Hudson adds clarity to the term “wacky tobacky.”

Bill points out the “infestation” of Durango.

“In-fest-a-tion – the state of flux the downtown tourist bureau is always in. Ever since ski areas became ‘resorts,’ every gathering has become a ‘fest,’” Bill observes.

“Beer fest, music fest, blues fest, folk fest, color fest, art fest, river fest, bike fest, food fest, train fest, balloon fest, summer fest, fall fest, winter fest.

“Having a ‘fest’ conjures up the image of children getting their faces painted, Izod shirts with collars turned up and wholesome live music,” he writes.

“But if the band headlining the event is from the ’70s, you don’t have a ‘fest,’ you got a ‘rally,’” Bill points out quite correctly.

Meanwhile, Galloway explains why pickup trucks inexplicably back into parking spaces.

“Having been blessed to live in Durango for 19 months as an employee of a contractor working for BP, I can explain ‘wacky tobacky,’” Galloway writes.

“BP requires back-in parking as a safety measure, and I can tell you that it works. It does not save time or effort, but it does keep some fender benders from happening,” he writes.

“It’s a good procedure. Wish I were still there to practice it.”

E-mail questions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you’ve ever seen a falcon – and we don’t mean the ugly car produced by Ford in the ’60s.