If there is one thing that has held my kids attention for long spells of time, it has been the bird feeders that we have had in our garden for the last 5 years. My youngest has always loved birds and nature, and he decided one year to spend his birthday money on buying feeders and seeds for the birds. It grew and there is now a chair beside the window that looks onto the part of the garden that oversees where the feeders are kept outside.
We have watched, robin red breasts, starlings, blackbirds, blue tits, coal tits, a magpie or two, and starlings and sparrows galore come to our garden, sit on the fence, and eat themselves full from our feeders. There are lots of birds we have seen, that we can’t even identify, even though we keep a book at hand to see what they are.
There have been a few squirrels cheekily opening up the top of the fat ball feeder to scoop them out, and more than one or two mice who climbed up the fence to have a feed.
The bird familes, we have watched as they grow, become mature, and venture out on their own, leaving their parents behind. It’s lovely in summer to see the the pairings of our regular birds for the nesting season, and the sudden increase in demand on the food, as the parents fly back and forth endlessly, taking a little at a time to feed their hungry young.
There have been hours spent looking out of the window and just watching the birds. The kids loved watching the blackbirds sunbathing in the garden when the sun was out. They enjoyed the feeling of keeping them alive during the winter months, by making sure there was plenty food out every day in the snow and cold.
This winter has been different, and I am surprised at how I feel about it. Our birds were coming to feed as usual, right through the horrible November snows and extreme cold that we had, and they managed to pull through December.
Sadly, since around New Year, we seem to have lost ALL our birds. There are a few of the larger woodpigeons in the bigger trees out the back, buy there is no sign of any of our blackbirds, the robin has disappeared, and all the small birds have vanished. The gardens seems like a morgue considering all the activity there has been there for the last 5 years and I am strangely upset by that.
I find myself in the mornings, taking a cup of coffee through, and sitting down to watch, hoping and willing for some of them to reappear, or new ones to find our garden and have some food to help them through the winter. Up until last year, we had a robin red breast who had been coming to us for three years. He knew us and the kids, and would happily sit on the fence while I filled the feeder. He didn’t make it back this year, and that made me a little sad, but a new one arrived in the early spring to take his place.
I missed that little robin, and the new young one was not so keen to be domesticated. I missed him, but that was fine as he had three years, and seemed to be a happy, chirpy chappie. That’s nothing to the disappointment I seem to be feeling that ALL our birds have gone this year. ALL of them have succumbed to the awful temperatures that we have had recently, both young and old.
It does make me sad that our small birds, and our songbirds in particular are not going to weather this winter very well, but nature will take over, and hopefully our garden will be a hive of feathered friends soon.
In the meantime, the kids and I will spend a little while of each day still looking wistfully and putting out a fresh bowl of water, just in case any of ours return.