Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Snail Smorgasbord

While I love watching the birds, and autumn is a fantastic time at my feeders - the black-capped chickadees, in particular, have been around much more lately, and yesterday I narrowly missed identifying a new warbler for the year (oh well, next time) - it's not just birds that enjoy the handouts I provide. We had some welcome drizzles a couple of evenings ago, and the snails took full advantage all over our walk and driveway. I was surprised, however, to find the platform feeders on my deck had become a smorgasbord to a dozen snails by morning.

The feeders on my deck are a range of terra cotta dishes of different heights and sizes, and the snails had eagerly found their way into the largest, lowest dish where I offer mixed seed for the house sparrows and house finches (millet, milo, and sunflower seeds). They were deliberately making their way over the seeds, and while plant matter is food for snails, I'm not sure how much they actually ate. Fortunately, they didn't linger over the meal too long and were gone as the morning advanced, or else they'd likely have ended up as snacks themselves for the western scrub-jays and black-billed magpies.

Of course, they are welcome - I'm fascinated by snails and their deliberateness. They are great pollinators and do more good than harm in my yard, so as long as they're willing to climb the steps to the deck and tempt the appetites of the birds that might find them, they're welcome to take their place in the buffet line.

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