Feather brains


It snowed. I managed to get out of Norwich before the inevitable gridlock and chose the snowiest roads I could find on my route home. Unfortunately the pheasant on the quiet country road underestimated the stopping distance in icy conditions. It would have survived the relatively low speed impact if it hadn’t chosen to stand in line with the wheels.

I don’t understand how a bird can survive four months of almost daily assaults by people with shotguns and still not learn how to cross a road safely. Don’t their parents teach them anything?

There are at least two pheasants hunkered down for the winter in the back garden. They have realised that they don’t need to cross the road. They just stand underneath the bird feeder and eat the seeds that the profligate tits and finches cast aside. The small birds peck through the mixed bird food, throwing out all the grains until they come to a sunflower seed. They are spoilt. Someone should make a reality TV programme about the behaviour of garden birds. Middle England would be horrified by their extravagance. I blame people like me who just hand out food without making them work for it.

Just after dark last night I saw something moving about on the snow in the middle of the back lawn. I went out in my wellies with a torch. At first I thought it might be a rabbit, but it had a long beak – a woodcock, probing the soft ground through the snow. It had probably flown in from eastern Europe and didn’t realise that I was giving out free food every morning.

9 Responses to “Feather brains”

  1. 1 Ann

    I have been trained by my garden birds not to buy mixed seed, just stick to the sunflower seeds and there’s no waste! Though maybe that’s why I have no woodcock.
    I have previously wondered if the pheasants realise if they lurk on roads they don’t get shot as generally the guns avoid the risk of accidentally hitting motorists. But I suspect not.

  2. 3 Andy F

    and come the summer you find all sorts of things sprouting from the lawn/gravel which was beneath the winter bird feeder.
    NB: bearing in mind the small fortune my wife spends on bird feed, any ideas of a cheap bulk supplier in Norfolk

    • Andy – my local supermarket is definitely not cheap. The local QD store is definitely cheap (the birds don’t mind) but doesn’t supply in bulk larger than 2.5kg bags. Next time I see the man driving a landrover through the wood with sacks of pheasant feed in the back, I’ll ask him where he shops.

    • Andy, if you have the relevant card, pop over to Makro.

  3. 7 Ann

    I only find sunflowers!

  4. 9 Graham

    I use last years sunflower heads to feed the birds, that way they have to work for it. They don’t seem to mind.

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