Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Bullied by birds?

Have you been bullied by blackbirds, ripped-off by robins or mugged by magpies? It happens to me every day.

I know we are lucky in the UK: we can sunbathe in the garden without being eyed-up by vultures or without having our eyes poked out by predatory parrots or crows. Mums can leave their infants in the pram and know that a monkey-eating eagle won't steal them, but it's still a jungle out there.

Black-mail. Look into his eye!
In 1954, in the Yorkshire Dales, my baby brother was attacked by a cockerel that was really trying to kill him. It was quite serious. We had our revenge of course, but he was a stringy old bird and almost inedible. Then my dad, who hailed from Scotland, told me about golden eagles carrying off lambs and babies! I have had one eye cocked to the sky ever since.

We moved to a big Hampshire estate where I played alone for hours in acres of gardens and woods that adjoined farmland. I had a hiding place under a beech hedge where I would lie in springtime and watch the weather and the hares boxing  My first sighting of sparring cock-pheasants scared the life out of me and I ran into the house to tell my mum that two eagles were after me.

Now its your common-or-garden birds that harass me.

Daylight Robbery.  
I suppose it's all about territory. The best territory is the one with the most food, and I thought it belonged to me, I pay the blooming mortgage after all. Blackbirds take a different view- it's their garden and my job is to feed them. The robins have caught on too, and the perishing pigeons and doves and now I'm feeding a neighbour's verminous white doves. (Symbol of peace and love? Not in my book.)

Last year I didn't mind so much, but this spring the goldfinches went off eating niger seed so I tried them on sunflower hearts. This was my big mistake as everything loves sunflower hearts and they cost a mint.

So now, I have a huge bill for bird food while a big bag of seed mix is ignored. They haven't touched the fat-balls since February. If I try cheating on them and sneaking out some cheap substitute food they complain by sitting on my fence close to my face while they give me the evil eye. I'm not imagining this.