The unusually low temperatures have continued here. It is the end of a long winter, the birds are tired and hungry and I have time, for once, to feed them.
The cold has brought new visitors. Gangs of blackbirds demolish the apples thrown out for them. Starlings have come to ground to flaunt their shiver of green sparkles against the dead grass. The marvellously painted goldfinches have finally discovered the niger seed feeder they have ignored all winter and a solitary field fare, puffed and fluffed against the cold eats sultanas and the apples left over by the black birds.
The sparrows can’t eat their crumbs fast enough before they freeze and I have taken to putting out hot couscous that stays unfrozen just long enough for them to eat it on their table.
As ever, the shops run out of bird seed at this time of year, as they are determined to sell us spring things, whatever the evidence of their eyes tell them to the contrary.
So I dug to the back of the food cupboard to find what I could use instead and came up with: dried figs (chopped up), raisins, sun flower kernels, oats and couscous ( cooked) and rice (cooked). I found soya beans which I boiled up. The birds wouldn’t touch them. I also threw two chicken legs onto the shed roof, which wonders of wonders, tempted in a red kite and a buzzard !
Possibly the most useful thing I have contributed so far is a regular kettle of hot water into the tin tray that is my bird bath. As all the water is ice at the moment, birds really need something to drink and the circles of ice in the picture are the emptied offerings, which shows how long it has been cold. My reward, when I was pouring the kettle, was the distant drumming of a woodpecker and the high, sweet mewing of a buzzard calling for a mate in the clear air.
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