Feeding the Birds

Most of the vacation down in Tybee was spent watching the Weather Channel and going outside occasionally to be sandblasted on the beach. But on Monday while Atlanta was getting drenched by Hurricane Jeanne, the weather was clearing up on Tybee.

That afternoon we were watching as the seagulls would fly in the 20-30 mph winds. By making small adjustments they could stay over one spot on the ground, but if they made a small adjustment they were immediately blown sideways at high speed downwind.

Someone decided we should throw breadcrumbs to some of the birds outside our fourth floor balcony. Although the birds were nearly motionless in relation to the balcony, when you threw a piece of bread from the sheltered balcony it was immediately whipped away by the wind. Sometimes the birds would catch it but more often it went to the ground. Some birds were close enough to the balcony you could throw the bread right at them and have a decent chance of them getting it. So Grant, Jeb, and I stood there throwing bread crumbs for a while (Dad would have no part in this since he (correctly) figured we needed the bread to make sandwiches the next day).

The birds were so close I figured I could just hold out a piece of bread and they could get it from my hand. I leaned over the rail and held a piece of bread as far out as I could and the birds immediately started trying for it. In the strong wind this had to be very difficult, but within a few seconds one had snatched the bread away without biting me. I tried a few more times with similar results.

There were some starlings (?) mixed in with the gulls as well. They were a little smaller and did a lot more flapping than the gulls, but they were more nimble and braver. They could come right up and grab a piece of bread while I held it 40 feet above the ground. Jeb said it looked like they landed on my hand for an instant while they picked the piece up. It was pretty interesting and shows you how well animals can adapt to almost any conditions. Pretty soon the birds lost interest as some other people on the second floor threw more bread crumbs from their balcony. Unfortunately nobody brought a camera so we didn’t get any pictures but you can ask anybody who was there and they will tell you this really happened.

2 thoughts on “Feeding the Birds

  1. I can vouch for this being a true story. The amazing thing about the starlings was that they could transition from the high-speed wind zone to the near no wind adjacent to the balcony. (The roof blocked the wind.) The seagulls couldn’t handle it becaue they would glide, but the starlings would flap to adjust. It was these birds that would momentarily “perch” on Ted’s middle finger as they grabbed the bread he was pinching. These birds also realized that a bunch of the bread was blowing to the ground, so they would simply wait around near the ground, too.

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