Is it me or are birds today getting cheekier?

A weekend in Cumbria made me wonder if ‘garden’ birds are becoming tamer, bolder, and generally more confident around people.

In a café in a nursery, a baby blackbird landed on the balcony next to our table. It wasn’t lost or confused, this wasn’t a new fledgling finding its way. This was a confident little bird that new where the food was. He/she was rewarded with a nibble of cheese scone.

It wasn’t just birds seeking food. In a park in Keswick we were surprised to see a baby song thrush standing right next to the path, staring up at us with it’s big eyes and still-downy head. My first thought was that it was unwell, maybe an early fledge that wasn’t very confident. Maybe it was begging from us? But no, when I bent down it instead became clear that it had found a large snail for itself, and six large humans were not going to see it parted from its prize!

The third and final example came while having breakfast in the sun on Saturday morning. Sitting on my won in the garden where we were staying, I was enjoying my cup of tea and watching chaffinches on the feeders. All of a sudden I felt the sense of a slight change in weight on my outstretched foot. A robin, so often the most confident of birds, had landed on my foot and was staring intently from me to my breakfast. I say my breakfast, it could be that emboldened by his confirmation as Britain’s National Bird this robin felt confident it was his breakfast, or at the very least ‘ours’. I couldn’t deny him a treat, and was not at all shocked that he would come right up onto my knee for a bit of biscuit.

So, what do you think? Are birds becoming steadily tamer? Is this the erosion of the ‘wild line’ between us and them?

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6 Responses to Is it me or are birds today getting cheekier?

  1. Emily Scott says:

    Could it be they’re hungrier and that makes them more aggressive for food?

    • David says:

      I wouldn’t say ‘aggressive’, but certainly emboldened. There’s pretty good food resources at the moment, I assume it’s just generations of birds that have grown up with the resurgence of feeding in the last ten years, so they see humans as no threat.

      • Emily Scott says:

        From an evolutionary perspective I suppose that makes sense, they are missing out on feeding opportunities and wasting energy if they needlessly avoid humans.

  2. Maia T. says:

    I’ve noticed that as they get used to me (and my feeding them, no doubt!) birds I was given the impression I shouldn’t expect to be terribly friendly have become very accepting of me. I gather Pied Wagtails aren’t exactly shy, but they certainly aren’t looking for food from me, and the ones that like to hang out on the garden paths don’t leave when i walk through. They do when I bring my dog, but they pretty clearly don’t see me as a threat.

    • David says:

      Yes, at home we have birds like bullfinches that are incredibly shy and flighty, yet will now sit on the feeders while we’re in the garden.

  3. Pingback: “Gullgate” – What really needs culling? | Why watch wildlife?

I welcome thoughts, comments and questions, so please feel free to share anything at all. Thanks, David

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