Birds In The Garden
Source: What Shall We Do Now?: Five Hundred Games And Pastimes
This brings us to the other garden birds which we have no wish to put
in cages, but which it is well to be as kind to as possible. In
winter, when there is a frost, to feed them is absolutely necessary;
but at all times it is well that they should know that you are not
enemies (of which they have so many), but their friends. The following
notes, together with the foregoing passage on feeding robins, on birds
in the garden have been prepared far this book:--
"Birds are grateful all the year through for a shallow pan of water,
which they can drink from and use also as a bath. And the bees, too,
will be glad to come and get a sip of water, for they also are thirsty
things. A small round yellow earthenware pan is excellent for the
thrushes and blackbirds, but it is as well to provide a smaller one,
say an ordinary shallow pie-dish, for the robins and little birds.
These should be refilled twice a day, at least, in summer time. You
can place the pans on the grass or path, where you can see them
comfortably from the house, but not nearer than you can help, because
the blackbirds are rather shy, and it would be a pity to make drinking
too great an adventure for them.
"Birds are thankful for a little feeding right through the spring,
both when the mother bird is sitting on the nest and the father has to
forage for two, and when the young ones are hatched and there are at
once many more mouths to fill. In the summer too, if it should be
unduly wet and cold, or unduly hot and dry, and grubs and insects
scarce, the young birds are pleased to find a meal ready for them. But
in the winter it is a positive duty to feed the birds; for remember
that when the ground is covered with snow, or frozen hard, they can
get no insects, and thus, after all the berries have gone, they will
starve unless they are helped with other food.
"Almost every household has enough waste scraps, if they are collected
carefully, to give the birds a good meal once a day. Bread, of course,
will form the chief part, but nothing comes amiss to them, however
tiny. Morsels of suet, dripping, shreds of fat, meat, and fish, and
cheese rind also, all mixed up together, are an especial treat. The
mince should be well mixed with the bread crumbs, or all may not get a
fair share. Crusts, or any hard, dry bits of bread, can be scalded
into sop (though, unlike chickens, wild birds do not seem to like it
hot), and a little piece of dripping or fat, soaked with the sop,
makes it more tasty for them. If the supply of bread be short, the
birds will be very pleased with chickens' rice. It should be the
'second quality' kind, in the brown husk, which can be procured from
most corn-dealers. But this is hardly necessary excepting in a long
hard frost. Starlings are especially fond of bones, and they will
esteem it a favor if any which have been used in making soup, and are
not required for the dog, are thrown out to them on the ground. Their
joyous chattering over them is quite cheering, even on the dreariest
winter's day. They are also grateful for the rind of a ham or piece of
bacon, after it has been boiled. This should be thrown out to them
whole, not cut up in little pieces. They are equally fond of the bones
and skin remains of a 'dried' haddock.
"For the bolder birds, such as robins, you will like to put some food
on the window-sills, and also on the path or grass close to the house.
But remember the more timid ones, and scatter it in other parts of the
garden as well.
"Sparrows, of course, deserve their food as well as any of the others;
but it is rather hard to see them taking every morning much more than
their share, while the less courageous or impudent birds (who also
sing to you) get none. It seems impossible to prevent this, though Mr.
Phil. Robinson, in his book Garden, Orchard, and Spinney (in the
chapter entitled 'The Famine is my Garden'), recommends scattering
some oatmeal mixed with a few bread crumbs on one side of the house,
to keep the sparrows occupied, whilst you feed the other birds
elsewhere. Sparrows, however, have a way of being on every side of the
house at once. Still, if you feed your birds daily, and as nearly at
the same time as possible (they like it as soon as may be after your
own breakfast), you will find them on the lookout for you, and they
will manage to get a good share, if they all start fair, in spite of
the sparrows. In a hard frost they are thankful for a second meal, but
it should not be later than two o'clock, because birds go to bed very
early in cold weather, and the food would be frozen too hard for them
to be able to eat it next morning.
"One word more. There is great danger of birds being caught by a cat
while they are busy with their food, especially if near the bushes.
The only possible protection against this which you can take is to see
that your own cat is indoors and is therefore not the offender."
Next: Laying The Breakfast-table
Previous: Garden Robins