Issues: Feeders empty and photographers obstructing view

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Issues: Feeders empty and photographers obstructing view

In a post to the Arizona-New Mexico RBA BirdList, a birder expressed two important concerns:

(1) The deck feeder was empty and Crest House staff invited him to fill it from the seed stock that is kept there.

Please realize that this is a hanging platform feeder and it is readily emptied with the help of wind gusts and hungry squirrels, not to mention the rosy-finches, jays, nuthatches etc.

The Crest House staff are under no obligation to tend to the feeders, although they often do just this. The feeding operation is managed entirely by volunteers, and I can speak from experience that help from other birders is most welcome, but please do not interfere with the duties of the restaurant and gift shop workers.

If you wish to bring seed, it MUST be the hull-less patio mix or hull-less sunflower seed. If you see the feeders empty, let the staff know that you wish to fill them. Do not scatter seed on the surface of the deck or elsewhere outside the feeders. We so appreciate that Crest House is permitting the feeders on their premises, so please be respectful and be sure to patronize their food and merchandise in return for the courtesy.

The banding team will fill them on Sunday mornings when they work there, and Alan Mickelson gets up once around mid-week to replenish them, but the deck feeder may need to be filled more frequently. Thanks for your cooperation.

(2) Photographers approaching very close to the feeder for a prolonged period of time.

This is a matter of respect for other birders and customers. The feeders and the magnificent view are there for the enjoyment of all visitors, whether or not they are birders. With modern lenses it is never necessary to approach so closely. There is room at the far left (south) side of the deck for one or more cameras and the birds generally will tolerate the presence of humans at that distance, and the window views will not be blocked (also, the light is better than when shooting into the sun). On a related note, if casual visitors wish to enter the deck and take photos of the scenery, it is their right, provided that the deck is not closed for safety reasons. Ice can slide down the metal roof and cause injuries or high winds require that the door be kept closed to conserve heat and energy, as propane must be trucked up from  miles away and 5000 feet below.

Please do not expect the staff to impose rules that should be a matter of common courtesy. Photographers or not, we are all their guests and they are not the "feeder police." If there are disputes or problems the easy solution for them would be to entirely prohibit access to the open deck.

I was at Sandia Crest house today at 10:30.  I waited until 12 with no Rosy-Finch sighting but then occurred to me that maybe there was no food in the feeder.  I checked with the staff and they told ME to check the feeder.  I found out that the feeder was totally empty.  On my request, the feeder was filled up with seed.  Immediately, the bird traffic increased: chickadees, nuthatches, juncos, and jays showed up.  In the meantime, 3 photographers showed up as well and set up their huge cameras on tripods fairly close to the feeder on the balcony.  At 1:10 PM finally Rosy-Finches showed up.  However, they didn't stay longer than 2 seconds (literally)  at the feeder, and sometimes they only sat on the tree tops and were scared by frantic movement of 3 huge cameras and never landed at the feeder.  I have nothing against photographers.  I am an avid bird photographer myself.  However, I suggest that certain rules should be imposed in cases like this for the sake of bird watchers.  Maybe allow only one photographer at the time, and only at the far end of the balcony, away from the feeder.  I also think that those rules should be posted and enforced by the Crest House staff.  If anybody is in contact with the Crest House administration, maybe those things can be discussed with them.  In the meantime, the lesson for Rosy-Finch seekers: check whether there is  seed in the feeder!

As far as I could tell, by the split-second views, all 3 species of Rosy-Finches were present in the flock.  On the way down, I saw a lonely Red Crossbill by the road.