Early this morning, I emptied the last dregs from the bird feeder at the back of the garden, the shiny new replacement I purchased only a short while ago, and stowed the contraption away in the garden hut, never to be hung lovingly on a tree again. It is a bird feeder no more. It has ceased to be. It has expired and gone to meet its maker. It is an ex-bird feeder.
Yes, I have finally given up the long struggle. I no longer feed the birds. When we moved here a few years ago, we put up a feeder for the small family of house sparrows which nested in the eaves of the shell of the old cottage next door. Sadly, the house sparrows have gone now, probably ousted from their feeding ground by the horde of tree sparrows which nest in gardens beyond mine. Until this morning, I continued to feed that horde. By proxy, I’ve also been feeding two groups of freeloading wood pigeons and doves.
The bigger birds are obviously too big to perch on the feeder, so they mooch around below it, searching for fallen seed, which they gobble up while simultaneously defecating. Now, I don’t really mind the bigger birds tucking into the fallen seed. What I do object to is wading through their shit when I replenish the feeder in the mornings and then having to clean whatever footwear I have on.
I’ve tried every trick in the book to frighten away the big birds. Banging on the window of my study, which has a bird’s eye view (ha!) of the garden. Opening the window to clap and scream Apache war cries. Going outside to throw stones and other things that come to hand. But none of it has been of any use. Oh, yes, they fly off for a while, but they soon return. Like goldfish, the doves don’t have the power of recall. They waddle around the garden with impunity, not seeming to remember that a javelin (i.e. clothes pole) whizzed past their heads the day before. The pigeons, on the other hand, are much more wary. They appear to have clocked my movements, knowing when I’m unlikely to be at the study window and therefore when it will be safer to fly in and grab some seed.
I’ve also tried hanging the bird feeder from a tree closer to the house. But all that succeeded in doing was to make the garden furniture resemble the surface of the Bass Rock. And to give the neighbourhood bastard black cat, which is the size of a panther, the opportunity to spring out at the birds from the cover of adjoining trees and bushes. That big fucker should give up an’ all: it never catches a thing.
Anyway, after innumerable unsuccessful attempts yesterday to scare off the big birds, I decided this morning that enough was enough. So no more daily feeds for the wee sparrows. No more freebies for the wood pigeons and doves. No more opportunities for the panther-cat to practice its woeful pouncing skills. It’s a no-win situation. Except for Gisby. He receives peace of mind at last. Either that or he’s away with the birds. Cheep, cheep. Cheep, cheep.