Rural Reading: Hungry birds flock to feeding postsBy Adrian Lawson
January 15, 2010
The weather has filled the news and in the quest to cover all the angles the impact on wildlife has been newsworthy, and rightly so.
As I wrote last week, a lot of wildlife has moved closer to towns and our gardens have become real wildlife havens. Many newspapers are featuring birds that have appeared in gardens but, of course, getreading was first with the news.
In my garden it just keeps getting better. If I am not out walking I am glued to the window watching for birds I haven’t seen before, and marvelling at the sheer numbers of birds eating the food put out.
But there is a problem – all these birds are in the garden because they are starving. It is during those rich days in autumn, when there is so much food available I hardly see any birds in the garden, that birds are doing well.
But some birds won’t visit my garden, which is landlocked in town, and they have to fend for themselves. One newspaper article I read said kestrels will do well in these conditions, as will owls.
The kestrels that I have watched recently are really struggling.
The voles they eat are buried under a foot of snow, safe from the falcon, but the falcon will starve without them. A very hungry kestrel will resort to trying to catch a bird, something they are not very good at. I have seen a kestrel repeatedly trying and failing – wasting energy, getting tired and clearly starving. It was getting dark too the last time I saw him, desperately trying to catch a robin. He will have gone to sleep and endured a cold and hungry night. I don’t suppose he can survive very many of them.
That night I went out to see if I could find the barn owl I found a few weeks ago. The chance to watch one hunting over a snowy landscape was really exciting.
It was an amazing walk, the landscape was breathtaking. I spotted several foxes and was able to watch them in their hunt for food, but I failed to find an owl and I went home disappointed.
Imagine my joy when I spotted one the next day in broad daylight, hunting over the very spot I had stood the night before.