Hand Feeding Birds

by Angela
(Alpharetta, Georgia )

Tweet eating mealworms

Tweet eating mealworms

Eastern Phoebe Has Befriended Us




About a month ago an Eastern Phoebe, who we’ve named Tweet, started visiting people on my street.

Tweet likes to perch near us while we’re in our yards or garage.

He’ll even fly over and perch on us.

At times, however, Tweet darts at our eyes - my neighbor swears that he plucked out an eyelash.

What would cause this behavior?

Is there any way to train a wild bird not to do this?

We enjoy Tweet’s company, but we’re concerned that he might damage someone’s eye.

By the way, when we realized how tame he was, two of us have been hand feeding him mealworms.


Hi Angela

Thank you for asking!


Hand feeding wild birds is such an exciting activity.

It is a great way to get to know wild birds up close.

But it is also important to remember that they are wild animals even when we attract them in to our personal space.

We should not expect them to behave according to our rules.

We must behave with the knowledge of their rules.

I am not completely sure why this little bird would try to peck the eyes of some people.

But I would like to hazard a guess and that is, that it is seeing a reflection of itself in some peoples eyes.

The same reason that birds sometimes attack windows.

They think they see a rival and respond accordingly.

This behaviour might be accentuated if someone was wearing regular glasses or sunglasses.

It may help to wear a hat with a brim such as a baseball cap, although it may also cause the bird to be more cautious about coming close until it is used to the hats.

If the Eastern Phoebe does become more aggressive with trying to peck some peoples eyes, I would highly recommend that all hand feeding of this bird be stopped.

It would seem likely that someone somewhere else has trained this bird and it would be unfortunate if someone decided to do harm to it because of its behaviour.

I hope this helps.

All the best to your neighbourhood and their little feathered friend.

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