Flocks of Fennel Feeders

In the first days of autumn (by the solar calendar)  sizable flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds and swarms of House Finches returned to Cesar Chavez Park to fatten up on fennel seeds for the winter.

Some of the younger, shorter fennel is still in bloom, but the taller, earlier fennel has now set seed.  I saw probably fifty or more blackbirds and possibly as many House Finches, soaring and wheeling and landing in one or another patch of the fabulous fennel forest on the north side of the park, and along the western ridge.

The blackbirds populated the area in the spring for mating and nesting.  Then they flew away to parts unknown.  On their return visit they’re not breeding, they’re feeding.  It’s not a situation like in the spring where the males sit atop a bush and hold it against all challengers, while the females hide out of sight and build nests.  This time all of them, females and males alike, perch in the top levels of the fennel forest and have at the seeds.  At some unknown signal, or at a disturbance, they rise and fly and resume feeding at another spot.  I saw them for three days in a row; no idea how long they will stay.

I could not get a good picture of the finches; they moved too fast.

Fennel keeps on giving: young fennel still in flower, foreground; older fennel already in seed, background. Photo 9/27/18.
Fennel flower head now a buffet of seeds.  Photo 9/27/18.


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