Bird Brains

At the front of our house is the sea and at the back of our house is a wood, which means we get a whole “Bird Spotters Guide” variety of birds visiting our garden.

The cleverest by far are the blackbirds and the robins who flap right up to the kitchen window to attract our attention, demanding to be fed. A few of them even eat from our hands, but it takes a great deal of patience waiting for them to pluck up the courage to do so.
The stupidest are the acid green coloured siskins, who flap right into the window and end up in a heap on the ground… or beneath a heap under the lawn.
One of these beautiful little birds met a particularly sorry fate in our back garden that I daren’t write about here; email me if you want the whole gruesome story.

The bully boys are the gulls, who scare all the other birds away and devour everything in seconds. One of them is better equipped than most to do this because he appears to have three beaks. We have named him “Three Beaks”. Original, I know.
Let me explain. He has the normal sort of beak just like you’d expect, but directly beneath his lower beak (bill?) is another one. It’s the same colour and length as the two above it, but it curves downward like a hook. It looks like it would be good for opening tins of beans. He is a bizarre looking thing.

The most “dangerous” bird that visits the garden is the sparrowhawk.
One minute you might be watching a little chaffinch or goldfinch warbling merrily on a twig when suddenly, in an explosion of feathers and throttled “tweets”, it will disappear completely because the sparrowhawk has dropped by for lunch. This happens in the blink of an eye. One minute they’re there and the next they’re not, and all the other birds fall ominously quiet.

The scariest bird (at least in our house) is the Barn Owl. Not because it’s dangerous, but because of the God awful sound it makes. Imagine being outside at night when everything is quiet and still when suddenly a noise fills the air that’s across between a screeching, hissing cat and nails down a blackboard. Click here.
See what I mean!

There’s a supporting cast of others who wait in the wings (no pun intended) and flit about inside the bushes or up in the tree tops; Wrens, Dunnocks, GreenfinchesTreecreepers; but there is one who watches all these goings on with a certain aloofness. He is the Bullfinch, and he’s a cut above the rest.
I’ve drawn this picture of him. Unbelievably it’s 100% accurate.

“What-ho Jeeves!”


Like some portly little toff in a tight-fitting waistcoat he “observes” the hoi palloi from high in the trees beyond the garden but never comes down to join then. We have feeders full of all sorts of bird food, seeds, meal worms, dried fruit, nuts, but none have enticed him yet.
It’s like he’s been invited to the wrong type of party and he’s really cheesed off. He’s expecting hors d’oeuvres but he’s getting sausages on sticks.

It’s probably a good thing though. If we finally did find something he’d like to eat he’d no doubt gorge himself, and get even fatter. Then he’d be no use to anyone, except a passing sparrowhawk



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5 responses to “Bird Brains

  1. Cath Paterson

    Wonderful description of feathered life in the back garden Andy. Very much similar to my own here in the south!
    I have a buzzard that every now and again perches himself on the back fence in amongst the ivy. There he sits observing the budgies that live in the aviary, twitching his head from side to side quizzically. My cat, the fat stupid Ginger one, once opened one eye from her favourite sleeping place and must have thought……hmmmm lunch!
    I watched her very quietly dismount from her sunny perch and creep along the ground towards the Buzzard, which of course had spotted her immediately and again sat looking at her moving his head from side to side in his comical, quizzical manor. Probably thinking “Hey up what’s this Ginger thing think its doing, bring it on red!”Dont know why I would think he has a Lancashire accent….. Anyway as the cat, now crawling belly to ground, knees at eye level, quietly, quietly, closer, closer. Until she was almost at the base of the fence below the magnificent bird, (still cocking his head from side to side watching her)……as she looked up, about to pounce. I saw a look of utter realisation cross her face as she suddenly began to reverse, slowly, slowly, back, back…..until she was safely away then she turned and fled into the house………..Buzzard 1- cat nil

  2. I’d love to have tea with that fellow! I really dig that he has a monocle. Another great piece of art tied into your life experience with creatures = )

  3. Harvey

    I never put you down as the bird fancying Bill Oddie type. Nice pic, I can just imagine the cheeky chap superciliously surveying his peers. We have bats in our house, little buggers poop all over the place. But they’re not technically birds are they?

    Just one thing, the the in ‘the hoi polloi’ is redundant, as hoi in Greek already functions as a definite article, a grammatical slip which in no way detracts from the enjoyment of your post.

    Yours, H.

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