I couldn’t believe my ears. Walking along the north side fennel forest, I heard the unmistakable call of a male Red-winged Blackbird. For a moment I thought I must have time-traveled back to the month of May, when these birds are as thick as thieves in this area. But by July they’re gone, and we don’t see them again until the next year. But here we were well into October, and they’re back. At first I could only hear the birds, not see them. Shortly, they appeared in the fennel crowns. No doubt about it.
I saw only about a dozen, including some females. After watching them for a while it became clear why they were here. It’s the fennel. Most of the golden yellow crowns have turned brown and hold up to the sky a star shaped offering of tasty and nutritious seeds. I saw more than a hundred House Finches swarming in and out of the fennel stands, feeding on the seeds. Several Gold-crowned Sparrows joined in.
Fennel seeds have nutritional and medical benefits for humans. See for example, this website, among many others. So why shouldn’t birds take advantage?