Oriole vs Grosbeaks toward tolerance for people
Outdoor Ontario

Oriole vs Grosbeaks toward tolerance for people


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Without doubt there seems to be a relative tolerance displayed by birds to the
presence of humans. Busy parks like Ashbridges remain to support a wide variety
of migratory species despite all manner of human hijinks and it is sometimes
possible to get close enough to visiting birds to take a photograph even when
restricted to using low-power optics. Birds encountered in the less utilized areas
of the Rouge, or Duffins Creek ravine show zero tolerance for people. You might
spot something interesting, certainly you can hear and record bird-calls easily
enough but to photograph one without 500mm or more of power remains fraught
with futility.

Backyard birds attracted to feeders show more tolerance toward people's coming
and going but they will still quit the good trough as soon as something moves. Baltimore
Oriole visiting the hummingbird feeder will flush even if I just approach the window,
or even if someone traverses the space close to the window.

American Goldfinch on the Niger feeder are less spooked and will carry on even if I stand directly at
the window, provided I don't engage in pantomine. On the other hand, RB Grosbeak on the sunflower
seed feeder will just ignore me completely even if I stick my thumbs in my ears,
wave my fingers and stick out my tongue. I mean, they might stop eating and look
directly at my grotesque face (even before my schoolyard gesture) and then glance
at each other ... get him! ... and then resume the daylight imperative.

The other day I stood directly in front of the window and saw a male grosbeak
on an empty feeder. When the male grosbeak saw me it immediately quit the taped-on
perch attached to the feeder and flew directly toward me alighting on the window sill
and stared up at me. It sat there for about 10 seconds.

To my credit I governed my otherwise silly behavior and did not resort to schoolyard
gestures. It was less a matter of good judgement and more sheer astonishment that
lead me to behave like an adult. I got the message "THE FEEDER IS EMPTY BUD". OK, OK, OK,
I'll replenish it.

I filled a pitcher with fresh seed and opened the sliding glass door and
stepped outside noting that a female grosbeak was perched on the empty feeder.
I grabbed the ladder and started toward the feeder. The female grosbeak remained
perched. I stopped under the feeder and opened the step-ladder and saw that the
grosbeak was still perched. At this point is was maybe two feet away from me. I could
have reached up and knocked it off the perch. I would never actually do that .... he, he, he.
It was not until I started up the ladder, just a couple of rungs before it quit the perch.

After filling the feeder, collapsing the ladder and putting it against the house wall the bird
was back on the feeder. I just stood there and looked directly at it and it turned and
looked directly at me. I have no idea what was going on in its mind. Probably thinking
... took you long enough ... I don't know. There is no way that would have played out
the same way with a Baltimore Oriole. As for Goldfinch, who knows. A Goldfinch might
have just recruited any nearby perches, perhaps the wooded arbour, anything outside
of my reach, probably above me, anything that might offer a strategic position to void
right on my head while I was replenishing the feeder, he, he, he. Goldfinch sometimes
show medium tolerance to people. I think I have some goldfinch genes in me.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Guest »


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Great summary of your observation. The juveniles are always more tolerant to humans than the adults - I guess the fear slowly develops over time. The urban animals are more tolerant to humans than their country counterparts - it is about adaptation I think. Though food is one source to gain trust, there may be other things in play here. I was following Point Pelee bird migration in May and there were days when people reported song birds foraging so close to people that most were afraid of  accidentally stepping on them. However, that closeness was something to do with their exhaustion and hunger. In general, if we don't pose any threat to birds or animals, closeness is bound to happen; after all we are part of the same animal world. I have seen Canada Goose more afraid of dogs than people, ducks in hunting areas are more afraid of people than they are in our local ponds. Animals are smart and they can perceive threat based on circumstances, posture and movement. Shortsighted with bucket of food is no threat to the Grosbeaks - they know it very well.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Guest »


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It may just be my imagination but I think the ducks that migrate through Toronto in the fall
are far more tolerant of me than those that come north from the US in the spring. Could that have
something to do with firearms?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Guest »


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Right now, I only have cowbirds, house sparrows and skittish cardinals. Those birds had better bring kids next time they visit! Actually house sparrows started to do that already.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Guest »