The noble robin - he of countless Christmas cards (or could be she because I rather think they both look the same). For the first time in all the years I have lived here my garden does not seem to have a resident robin - he who always looks so pert and pretty but who in fact, once he has claimed your garden as 'his' territory does not tolerate another robin anywhere near.
Favourite food is mealworms - or suet from a packet. He will tolerate crumbs but - rather like Prince Harry= he expects the best.
And here comes the stumbling block to tempt him into my garden. I can't go out in frosty weather because I might slip and fall. I could open the patio door and scatter it on the step but - and here is the real fear - might I be encouraging four footed beasties - mice (I know where a family of mice live in my garden and as long as they don't try to come in they are welcome) but even worse - rats. There needs to be a bird table (and even then some rats can manage to reach the table by fair means or foul).
And as I write this it does occur to me that as far as I know there is no one younger than 70 around where I live - all bungalows seem to be in roads like that up here. And over 70 nobody wishes to be slipping and sliding to a bird table this time of year.
Now that I am more or less housebound birds play an important role in my life. It is a month today since the solstice - 28 days since the sun began to return and the mornings began to get lighter and most mornings now I see the thousands of rooks filling the sky as they go over at day break to cover the fields and dig for grubs with their iron-hard beaks. I wonder who makes the first move. Is there a chief rook who suddenly makes the first caw to wake everybody? This morning as I watched them go over - shouting and swooping around- suddenly, at a slightly lower level - a skein of geese flew over. How neat and orderly. One leading the V formation - taking not a scrap of notice of the noisy rooks.
And it struck me that like we humans - we all have our ways, our manners, our habits. There is some reason why I have not seen a robin this year. I just hope it isn't the Bengal cat that has taken to patrolling my garden daily. His owner is one of my carers - she has Bengals and the Tom is a law unto himself; she 'can't do a thing with him.' So what chance have I got?
I do hope your Robin comes back. One was singing today from the flowering cherry tree in the garden although when I stopped to look at him he stopped singing! A shy Robin?
We seem to have two robins here, a back garden and a front garden robin. I suppose it could be the same one, sneakily flying over the roof from front to back as we look out of each window!
Like you, I've not seen any robins. You still have a very good variety of birds to observe. Feeding the birds is also great fun. To solve his bird feeding issues, my neighbor has installed a bird feeder on a pulley line attached to his back porch running to a tree. Only the birds can reach the feeder. Even the squirrels have tried to walk the pulley rope to get to the feeder and they do not succeed. My neighbor fills the feeder standing on his porch and then pulls the rope to suspend the feeder above his back garden. The feeder is nicely visible from a kitchen window as well as the porch. You might like this arrangement. Possibly your garden helper could install something similar?
It's too early for robins here as they usually arrive in March. Our oddly warm days (cold nights) may bring them sooner this year.
It was a surprise to me that your robins and our robins are very different from one another.
Hope your gardener can rig up a pulley system or some handy birds-only feeder station that you can safely fill and that cats, rats, and squirrels cannot access.
There is a kind of bird feeder that attaches to a window so it is up off the ground, no mice or rats, and you can see the birds through your window. Not sure how well they work but it would be an option.
Perhaps you could get your gardener to set up a pulley system like Susan has.
The Robin around my garden can often be singing in the middle of the night. Did you know that in the winter, both male and female Robins sing.
Really severe frosts each morning at the moment and with blue skies all day the highest temperature has been a raw 2 degrees.
Thank you so far for the suggestions. The difficulty is alwaays going to be the filling. I can't stand unaided which means I never have a free hand.
I was thinking of a pulley system too - washing lines in narrow streets in the Med. came to mind! We seem to have two robins at the moment. Our cat doesn't bother going after any birds. She's too well fed!
Any bird food dropping around a feeder will attract rats. Avoid feeders.
Lots of robins here this winter. Much more than usual. Maybe due to mild winter.
Do you have hummingbirds in Yorkshire? If so maybe you can hang a feeder in front of a window and ask the carer or your son to refill the nectar every week or so.
Talk to your gardener about plants that attract birds. I often see birds and don't have feeders.
Sadly I can't put out bird feeder because of the squirrels in my yard. They are a nuisance!
Hopefully your robin is just keeping away from your garden because it has seen the cat about. I love the different sounds that birds in flight make - geese calling to each other when flying at night, and the lovely sound of swan's wings, and the whisper of an owl's wings when it flies overhead.
Between last summer's drought and this winter's wet and cold, the small bird population has taken hard knocks.
However now youngsters will be establishing their territories...so hopefully you will see them soon!
You need back your robins! I have no suggestions. I understand this past "winter" has been rough on birds over here.
I'll have to check and see if you all have hummingbirds? Somehow I thought they were a Western Hemisphere thing. We do have them here (east coast US) but the nectar has to be changed every few days which I think would be logistically difficult for you.
We have a plexiglass box with suction cups that stick to the exterior of a window - it would be too small for our robins, who are not seed eaters anyway, but I believe your robins are smaller and do eat seeds? Anyway, its very handy for refilling as one can sit in front of the window, slide it up and reach around with a cup of seeds. Wouldn't work if that window had a screen, but perhaps you don't have screens? We do occasionally have chipmunks on the outside sill interested in the feeder but they can't reach it because of the expanse of glass and wouldn't come in the house anyway.
All rather complex as I write it out but in real life its pretty easy. There is a closed tin of seed that the filler cup lives in right next to the window.
The cost of bird feed, along with everything else, meant that this winter we had to stop feeding the birds here. I was not happy about it, and the birds are probably even more unhappy than I am. But $50 a month was just too expensive. What I have noticed, though, is that we have not had the usual battle with mice this winter. We still have birds, not as many, however. Come spring we will start feeding again for the migratory flocks.
Oh, we had robins who would nest under the eaves of the back deck. It was always so fun to watch them grow that we left them be although they did make a right mess. Our robins over here can raise two or three clutches over the course of a summer. Once they were fledging, and a baby had dropped to the ground where we were splitting wood and stacking it in the wood shed. We had a big dog who saw it and immediately headed over to investigate. Those parent birds came down and gave that dog the scare of his life, flying at his face and making quite a racket. The dog decided that he was not at all interested in investigating further. The funniest part? In all the commotion, the little bird flew back up to the deck! I guess he needed the proper motivation.
Before Christmas I hung some of those Fat/Seed balls in the apple tree opposite our front door. Two days ago I took them down. They were untouched and sprouting. Usually they would have been consumed within two days, where have all our small birds gone?
To answer Cro's question it is the Avian flu that has taken down so many of our wild birds. The sight of dead swans and wading birds is terrible. One answer is to keep your bird feeders scrupulously clean. Robins are gorgeous in all their perkiness.
No humming birds outside a zoo in this part of the world.
It's been a while since I last saw a robin around my house, but every now and then, one makes an appearance. We have a large population of sparrows and black tits (no blues), and of course blackbirds provide the main part of the avian concert.
Pat, did the book about crows you read not long ago say anything about who makes the first move?
We've had some snow now and it is icy at -3C in the morning and a maximum of +1C during the day.
I was also going to suggest a " window" feeder. It depends how your windows open though to enable filling from inside.
A few years ago I noticed a rat inside my "squirrel proof" bird feeder. There were 2 dogs in the garden at the time, a schnauzer and a yorkie, both bred as rat catchers and neither of them had noticed it above their heads. I went out and it dropped to the ground beside them but it managed to scuttle off in one piece. My schnauzer did manage to kill one in the garden a few years ago. He stood looking at the corpse in amazement!
Librarian - no mention so far but I am only half way through. It is a most interesting book - must have taken a huge amount of research.
Cro/Thelma - I never thought of avian flu - I am sure you are right Thelma. Terrible.
Debby - how interesting - they are brave little birds.
Ceci - I have thought of a window feeder but unfortunately I can't stand unaided so it would be impossible for me to fill it.
Thanks everyone. Thelma's reminder of bird flu is a sobering thought.
I noticed a lack of small birds recently and hoped it wasn't due to bird flu. They are back now down here, and robins are amongst them. They are even beginning to pair up and it's only January. I am sure yours will return.
Thanks for the comfort Tom
I was having regular patrols from neighbourhood cats, scaring 'my' birds away. I bought (online} a water pistol - one of those colourful toys that children use to have water fights - and keep it filled with water in the kitchen. At the first sign of a cat, out comes the water pistol and a well-aimed squirt soon sees them off! No damage or hurt for the cat - they just dislike getting wet. After a few wettings, the cats decided to stay out of my garden. Success!
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