I stopped by the birdseed store the other day to use a gift certificate. When I parked the car, I saw these finches fluttering around and perching all over a feeder at the edge of the parking lot. So I bought the same kind of feed - a bag of sunflower chips.
Later I hung the feeder containing this newest seed offering from the deck railing. Soon, excited goldfinches, purple finches, and house finches began feeding.
Then on Sunday morning I was sitting on the deck talking on the phone with a friend and along came a bluebird family: Mom, Pop, and Baby. The father positioned himself on one of the highest perches. Baby got on one of the low perches, and Mom watched on the sidelines. Pop started eating seeds. He took one for himself and then popped one in Baby's mouth. Baby, stretching his neck to reach up for Dad's gifts, kept chirping and gulping seeds as fast as they were served.
Then Mom noticed me and started fluttering and chattering. Pop continued eating and feeding Baby. This was too much for Mom. She grabbed one of Baby's legs and pulled him off the perch. This caused him to lose his balance and land on the edge of one of the planters. That didn't discourage the old man. He just fluttered down from the perch to poke a seed in Baby's open mouth and went back up for his share and the next seed for Baby.
Mom was getting very agitated. She scolded the kid and her mate. Placidly they continued their eating and feeding routine. She was beside herself with fear because she heard my voice and noted my "huge" presence. I was describing the drama to my friend on the phone. Finally Mom had had enough. She grabbed Baby's leg so he had to loosen his grip on the planter. He fluttered and flew off with Mom to the big tree. Pop gulped a few more of the seeds and reluctantly followed them. Then I saw the little family fly off to the west.
How amazing to witness such distinctly human roles in tiny creatures! Mom was protecting her young. Pop was willing to take risks. The baby was completely innocent of any problems. His mission was to eat.