May brings an explosion in the garden. Everything burgeons and each day offers fresh delights. The month becomes increasingly noisy as young birds demand that their parents feed them. The parents are on the go from just before break of day until the last vestiges of light have left the sky - they are being worn ragged by their demanding offspring. Feeding several bottomless pits is exhausting and some of the adults are beginning to look rather unkempt, their usually pin neat plumage dishevelled. There is little time to preen when there are so many mouths to feed.
It was flirting my tail like this that got me into trouble in the first place.
I'm exhausted - no time some days even to run a comb through my feathers . . .
. . . but at least my babies say 'Please' and 'Thank you', unlike those rude starling youngsters.
Say Please . . .
Feed me PLEASE - I'm starving. I'm a starving starling . . .
That's better, dear - now don't gobble.
We have seen blackbirds, goldfinches, nuthatches, coal tits, magpies, blue tits, great tits, greater spotted woodpeckers, wood pigeons, robins and a chaffinch at the feeders. It’s very unusual to see a chaffinch – they prefer to feed on the ground. The long-tailed tits are noticeable by their absence – no doubt they’ll be along later for they must have young too. The jackdaws have been back to take food from the bird table and the local crows are vigilant and noisy when a red kite soars above their nests, looking for an easy meal.
My youngsters are hungry, too . . .
. . . and mine . . .
. . . mine, too . . .
All clear? Tuck in.
I wait till it's quiet.
Our most conspicuous visitors are the starlings. A few days ago we saw only three or four young birds but in the last couple of days the numbers have proliferated. Yesterday Barry counted forty starlings perched on the arches. They chatter and shriek from early morning until dusk. They enjoy communal feeding on the pergolas and communal bathing in the pond. Watching the harassed adults it’s difficult to ascertain whether the parents feeds their own young or whether they respond to all gaping beaks – I suspect the latter.
Wood pigeons need food, too. Some chance with all those starlings.
I watched the plump, cheeky starling babies as they alternately preened vigorously and called vociferously. One of them was paying more attention to his plumage than his safety. Good grooming is essential for a bird but he wasn’t looking about as frequently as he should, as, indeed, the adults do. I feared for his welfare. I knew a sparrowhawk would appear on the scene sooner or later and today was the day. He swooped down from the roof and carried off a screaming youngster. Barry was startled when he walked along the garden path a few minutes later to see the sparrowhawk on the ground preparing his feast. We may deplore the depredations of the sparrowhawks but they have young to feed, too.