Feeding the birds

by Richard Jones

On the weekend of 25/26 October, the RSPB held a Feed the Birds Day with various events up and down the country.

rj-121108-mouseOn the weekend of 25/26 October, the RSPB held a Feed the Birds Day, with various events up and down the country. It doesn't yet seem cold enough to worry about putting up seed feeders or fat cakes, but then we're probably more protected from the weather here in London.

The garden is still looking remarkably green, even after we cut down the now wilting and blackened dahlias. In fact we already have a perfect bird-feeder growing out there - the apple tree. And the bird that best takes advantage of the few stragglers left hanging in the branches is the blackbird. I'm so used to seeing these handsome birds strutting about on the lawn that it was a bit of a surprise when I first saw it dangling acrobatically in the tree. It certainly made me look twice; there was something strange about the perspective because it made the bird look much bigger than their normally neat and petite form.

rj-121108-apples1Today I harvested the remaining fruit. I don't know what variety the tree is, but the apples are not very tasty except in crumble, and here were the marks made by the birds. I don't think I should have been too surprised; the RSPB's feeding birds web page shows a blackbird taking advantage of a windfall.


What do mice do on Bonfire Night? They sit around admiring the fireworks oblivious of the loud whizzes and bangs that keep the cats huddled in a dark corner indoors somewhere. But the cats have cottoned on to this and the moment the explosions stopped, 10.13 in East Dulwich, the black one was out of the cat flap like a shot. Within three minutes she was back with a squeaking victim. I chucked it back into the compost bin to tell its mates to stay out of the way next year.

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Gardeners' World Web User 13/11/2008 at 09:10

Poor little mouse. The profusion of ctas in my areas bugs the life out of me. Endless destruction of borders, faeces in the soil, dead birds. I cannot fathom why people (especially wildlife enthusiasts!!) keep these dreadful animals as house pets and then inflict them on their neighbours. And turn a blind eye to the destruction they cause to proper wildlife.

Gardeners' World Web User 13/11/2008 at 22:31

There's room for us all?? Not for the poor mouse and the birds! I'd have birds in my garden any day (and mice outdoors too!) but cats? No thanks. Keep them in the house if you want house pets. Harrumph.

Gardeners' World Web User 14/11/2008 at 14:24

‘Proper wildlife’ indeed. Nature isn’t Chiswick in macrocosm, you know. You could keep all of the cats indoors, and the ‘proper wildlife’ would all still be brutalising and mutilating each other - not playing nicely together.

Gardeners' World Web User 15/11/2008 at 12:05

Feeding the birds how can I feed the birds and not the rats?? We loved to feed the birds and were greatly enriched from their visits. But had give up when we were feeding rats they took over. help

Gardeners' World Web User 21/11/2008 at 21:13

Reply to Clive Rusby. Unfortunately rats are extremely common and able to exploit any food they can find, human or bird. I've always thought that casually discarding huge amounts of broken bread, seeds, or nuts on the ground is the best way to encourage rats, and does little for any other wildlife. The biologist in me thinks that if there is food enough for rats to scavenge off the ground, there is probably already food enough out there for birds — berries, seeds and insects. It is when snow covers the ground that birds are less able to forage so only then d we need to put out anything for our fine feathered friends. If you want to attract birds to a feeder to enjoy their antics and watch them close up I suggest a very minimal amount of seed/fat mix in a tiny plastic flowerpot or other container and hang it close to the kitchen window. Refill it regularly with small amounts. Spillage will be kept to a minimum to is less likely to attract rats, but the birds will learn to examine it regularly. Worth a try? Good luck.

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