Wednesday, 26 May 2010


Some time ago The Better Half (TBH) and I were startled by a loud thump from the kitchen it took us several days to link the sound to a pigeon limping badly in the garden and a dirty patch on our kitchen window. When the sun was in a particular position, the dirty patch suddenly became the shape of a pigeon. You could see its wings spread out, its feet in landing position and one eye quite clearly and very nearly count the feathers.

A similar imprint on a friend's window

We have a number of birds visit our garden and in the ten years since the house was built, more and more varieties have been spotted on our bird feeder. Originally there were just crows and magpies but soon pigeons, blackbirds, and starlings arrived. A pair of goldfinches stayed around for a short time but until we put up a new feeder that came with three kinds of seed included, we did not see any sparrows. These little birds have reduced in population a lot over the last twenty or thirty years and people who know about such things are quite worried about it. The sparrows loved one of the three kinds of seed and we have tried to use that one ever since. On one occasion I counted forty sparrows in the garden, which the most I have seen together for a long time. We also regularly get blue-tits, great-tits, coal-tits, chaffinches and a robin.

Two less frequent visitors have been seen recently. In early spring, a heron was around, and on one occasion it was stood on our neighbour’s roof whilst two crows mobbed it with repeated swoops and feints. It majestically ignored them other than ducking its head slightly as they swooped down. After a while, and in its own time it flew off. I was able to get a movie of this action since it lasted about fifteen minutes. The second was a greater woodpecker that has visited more than once and I have him on film too.

A short truce while they ignore each other

A couple of days ago I was alone in the house since TBH is away on a mercy mission looking after The Granddaughter whilst her dad is in hospital and her mum is at work. Since I need to finish the mess I had started in laying a path, before the next round of family visits I did not go with her but have been alone in the house for several days. One afternoon after I had had enough and was resting, when another pigeon made me jump by hitting the kitchen window hard enough to make me think something had broken. No sign of a stunned pigeon but also no limping bird either this time.

Work in progress

Yesterday morning I was back out working in the garden when I heard some crows making quite a din and looking up I saw four or five of them mobbing a larger bird, quite high up in the sky. At first I thought it must be the heron again but as I peered at them I realised it was a bird of prey, maybe a sparrowhawk. They were moving rapidly and so quickly flew off into the distance before I had a chance to get my camera and I was unable to identify it properly.
After a morning’s session in the garden laying the path, I came in and ate my lunch. Sitting down reading whilst my lunch went down, I was startled by a sparrow trying to fly through the closed window near me. Stupid birds! I thought, I will have to do something to stop them and I got up and looked out of the window. Suddenly three crows swooped down into the garden and the sparrowhawk or whatever it was suddenly took off from behind some plants and skimmed over the fence into our neighbour’s garden, chased off by the crows. It happened so fast, I still did not get a good look at it, but I now understood why the sparrow had tried to fly through the glass. I went out to see if I could see anything but there was no sign but there were sparrows in all the surrounding bushes chirping angrily and very loudly for some time afterwards.
I now wonder if the hawk was the cause of the two pigeons trying to fly through a closed window, not stupidity, panic. Another clue I had ignored was a great patch of pigeon feathers on our front lawn where something had had dinner. I had assumed it was a fox, which abound near us but now I wonder if it may have been the bird of prey I saw. I will have to listen out for the crows making a row and grab my camera.

One of our vigilante crows on patrol

All this took me back to a time when I was on a business trip to Fort Worth and around the side of one of the buildings we were visiting, were a number of dead birds on the ground. Near the building there were some ornamental trees with a lot of fruit lying on the ground beneath them. I asked if the fruit was poisonous and accounted for the dead birds, but I was told that, no the fruit was highly edible but if left too long on the ground they rapidly fermented and when the birds ate it they became drunk and more often than not got so confused that they tried to fly through the windows and broke their necks as a result.

1 comment:

  1. I was missing you, Snafu, but your lovely long blog made up for the silence!

    Great bird stories. We can identify. We often hear a bang, on our front bay window. Usually it is just sparrows, but the red cardinals often think their own reflection is another cardinal and end up banging themselves around.

    The crows around here are very annoying, and numerous, but they don't seem to be attacking other birds yet.

    The other day we saw more cardinals at one time than we ever have before - must have been around 10 of them, male amd female, flying around the garden -- maybe it's mating season?