I don't know a whole lot about birds, but it had been my very great pleasure to get to know some of the motley crew that inhabit my garden. My desk faces the window see, and I gaze over the top of my computer and slip into the avian soap-opera on a regular basis.
My garden is surrounded by thick hedges and mature trees, which seems to suit the birds very much. I feed them all year around, taking great are to toss their food in the very centre of the lawn, lest a bored cat might be lying in wait under the foliage.
There's quite a collection of them these days. I have the black birds, magpies, the starlings, finches, wood pigeons and a very small but highly aggressive robin. I'm also under the flight path of a grey and black heron who cruises by daily on his way to the Dodder and who landed on the roof on the shed the other week causing absolute UPROAR with the magpies who saw him off with all the ferocity of a pack of dogs.
The magpies are funny, loud rambinctious little thugs. They think they own the place. They take the food out of the garden and store it in the gutter of next door's greehouse. They've actually become quite tame over the year and gawk in at me as I work. Sometimes they even land as I'm putting out the bread.
My favourite bird is The God Pigeon. He calls in every afternoon about two, landing with a thump, ready to stuff his belly with brown bread-he forgos white. He's a chunky grey and white bird with a distinct limp. Sometimes he comes with a pal, but mostly alone. He'll stroll along the perimeter of the lawn first, peering intently under the bushes before taking his place at the banquet. He's smart that one, and had more than one encounter with the Bigger of the Cats. I do worry about him though. It take him a it of a while to get airborne and one of these days he's going to come a cropper.
The blackbirds are always at war with the magpies, but this year is more peaceful than the last, possibly because the magpies have their own bigger problems.
I am rarely bothered by crows, you get the occasional few here and there, but really they don't make much of an impression. However in the last few weeks two of the grey and black variety have shown up late morning. These birds are large with huge beaks and an ugly disposition. They seem fearless and strut around like bully boys. The magpies take them on- indeed I'm starting to think of the magpies as the jack russells of the bird world- but the crows always come back.
The robin lives right outside my window in a think briar filled blackberry bush with his super shy missus. I don't know if she lives there all year or not, but he does. He lands every day on the back of a wrought iron chair and surveys his kingdom. He's tini-tiny not much bigger than a golf ball really, but he sings and sings and he is a ferocious defender of his patch. I call him Napoleon.
I'm hoping this years crop of babies escape the attentions of the cats. The cats are locked in every night and early morning when the birds are settling and rising, which helps I suppose. But there's always going to be a risk, especially when the young start to learn how to fly.
As I type right this second the robin has bounced out onto a thick briar strand, he is fluffing himself up for some grand aria or other.
Oh Napolean, what a voice you have. You're like a little Joe Dolan.