- The bird cards and player board are very pleasant and worth admiring as they are. Also the translation from real biology data to in-game concepts and ratings is great.
- Birds powers seem balanced on a 1 food = 1 egg = 1 card = 1VP basis.
- Start is usually slow to very slow but may be accelerated a lot by a few lucky cards (Ravens, Gull/Killdeer) but also any 1 food per action.
- Typical end with lots of eggs (grassland habitat actions) for scoring.
So my proposal (strictly unofficial and if anyone may be interested):
During Round 1: Before first action, choose one (and mark with a coin) of:
- Forest action: +1 food (still from feeder)
- Wetland action: +1 card
During Round 2: Get the bonus not chosen in Round 1.
During Rounds 3+4: - Grassland action: -1 egg
I think this would not change scores too much, would reduce arbitrary variance, increase emphasis on the birds themselves, even out the start vs end 'speed' and balance the use of any of the 3 environments (currently too much in favor of grassland + 1 other).
It would mitigate starting luck in another way: if starting cards are good one can keep them and get their food easier; if they are bad then keep the food and draw more candidate birds.
The egg advantage vs other resources is reduced from a permanent +1 over both other resources (food, cards) to a partial advantage (+1 over only 1 resource -the non-chosen one, for 15 of the 26 actions).
Ravens and Gull remain still good-ish, on the level of several other 1-for-2 birds. Crows are reduced to marginal (1 egg for 1 exact food type, there already is a 1-for-1 food exchange ability). Other abilities are improved: 1-food-for-2 VP; tuck 1 card+get 1 egg ... and many such.
It may even have some ecology backstory! The abundant food early in the season attracts potentially many species, but later environmental overshoot reduces the excedent biomass to lay so many eggs.