In Nelson, these events start with the ornamental fruit trees.
These fruit trees seem to have been planted purposely in yards and along berms. Among their delicacies are crabapples, elderberries, and rowan berries (mountain ash). However, when snow covers the ground, these berries become particularly appealing to birds, and in particular to irruptives.
Irruptive birds are irregular winter visitors. They irrupt from the north and turn up here only now and then. One can go for years and see none, but suddenly they are all over the place. An irruption is a dramatic, irregular migration of large numbers of such birds to areas where they aren’t typically found.
In this last week, there have been reports of irruptive Pine Grosbeaks feeding here on rowan berries. I went looking for them. Alas, I did not find any so include a picture of one from a previous irruptive year.
Now, we are in the realm of unintended consequences: a city plants fruit trees; the fruit trees attract birds; the birds attract predators. Previously, I mentioned that Pygmy Owls fly in to feast on irruptives. But, yesterday, I unexpectedly saw a Merlin in Nelson also watching small birds (in this case robins) feeding in fruit trees.
One of our two rarely seen resident falcons, a Merlin, was beside a school watching small birds feasting on berries. The Merlin had the clear intention of feasting upon them.