Monthly Archives: July 2009

How the Starling got its name

It is fascinating how starlings got their name.

In summer starlings do not have many spots.

In winter starlings have the pale spots all over their dark bodies.

The white spots on black plumage were thought to look like the night sky

So the bird was named the Starling

Starling in England

Starling in England

 Is this a UFO or is it a formation of starlings

Starlings or UFO

Starlings or UFO

A river flows on through the vale of Cheapside

At the corner of Wood Street, when daylight appears,
Hangs a thrush that sings loud – it has sung for three years.
Poor Susan has passed by the spot, and has heard
In the silence of morning the song of the bird.

‘Tis a note of enchantment: what ails her?  She sees
A mountain ascending, a vision of trees:
Bright volumes of vapour through Lothbury glide,
And a river flows on through the vale of Cheapside.

Green pastures she views in the midst of the dale,
Down which she so often has tripped with her pail;
And a single small cottage, a nest like a dove’s,
The one only dwelling on earth that she loves.

She looks, and her heart is in heaven: but they fade,
The mist and the river, the hill and the shade;
The stream will not flow, and the hill will not rise,
And the colours have all passed away from her eyes.


REVERIE OF POOR SUSAN – Wordsworth 1770-1850

I think this poem paints a picture of how birds  can connect us to nature.  

If  you have any poems / nursery rhymes about birds drop me a comment

Thrush asleep on a bird table

I’m up and about early this morning – 5.15am. Looking out the window I saw a thrush on the birdtable. It seemed to be asleep, but could have been ‘sitting, resting’ there waiting for food.

My movement at the window startled the thrush and it flew away in a flash.

I couldn’t help but wondered why it was resting on my birdtable and not roosting in a hedge

[ad#125x125square]The thought occurred to me that maybe it felt safer on the bird table than in the hedge.

The birdtable is the one that I have put garden canes round. I did this to stop large birds getting onto the birdtable. It has worked! The canes stop the large birds balancing on the bird table. The thrushes, blackbirds and smaller birds just fly inbetween the canes. It does not look pretty and I’m going to sort the canes out better – but it is now used by many birds and I put loads of bird food out every day knowing only garden birds will get the food.

New and unique way to keep pigeons away

Getting back to why the thrush was resting on the birdtable. I have seen with my own eyes a sparrowhawk dive into my garden hedge to get a blackbird – SPARROWHAWK AND BLACKBIRD

Is it possible that there is a sparrowhawk around maurauding the hedges – or even a magpie – and the thrush went to the birdtable for safety.


For me this strange birdtable with canes is the only way I have found that allows thrushes and blackbirds to get bird food yet keeps rooks, pigeons, ravens, crows off. I have some caged, hanging bird feeders and a ground covered bird feeder – but blackbirds and thrushes can’t use them.


I know sparrowhawks won’t go into a prickly Hawthorn bush / hedge to get prey. I don’t have any Hawthorn in my garden but there is a lot down the lane. Maybe we should plant Hawthorn.


Do you have thrushes resting in your bird table?

Have you had to solve any problems of large birds getting bird food?

Have a good day. Trisha – 6am!



Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-07-26

  • Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-07-19 #
  • Swallow chick safe in nest #
  • Rook – A Video #
  • Blackbird Facts #
  • Putting long garden canes round the birdtable has stopped large birds eating the bird food. It’s great! The thrushes + others are back #
  • There has been torrential rain over the past few days. It’s great! the dew pond that we cleaned out is filling up nicely. It looks lovely #
  • Waiting for harvest here on the farm. The weather decides when we start. We are lucky we live in a country where we can grow good food #
  • Can’t stop thinking of when a sparrowhawk landed at my feet with a young, healthy blackbird in it’s talons. For a second all was still.. #
  • Counting Sheep #
  • Cause of seabird wrecks found #
  • mp3loud-and-clear-2358 Aren’t birds cheery little things #
  • Barn Owl Tragedy #
  • The Painted Ladies are coming! #
  • Millet Bird Food #

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Millet Bird Food

 Millet is a small white seed about the size of a pin head

Millet Bird Food

Millet Bird Food

When one type of seed is bought on it’s own it is called either straight seed or single seed.

  • Millet is a good single seed to use 
  • Millet has a very good  food to energy ratio .  This means when a bird eats millet it soon changes this food into energy.  This is important, especially in winter.
  • Millet is a good  source of vitamin B – this is important during the breeding season
  • Millet is full of protein and iron
  • Millet is cased in a  shell so protects the seed from moisture

Millet is a good bird food for many birds. Sparrows seem to especially like it.

I fill a PK Feeder up with millet.  There are always sparrows feeding from the feeder.   This seems to go on all day.  The amount of millet they eat is astronomical!

PK Bird Feeder

PK Bird Feeder

The PK Feeder and millet go together like a horse and carriage!  It is possible to put other food in the PK Feeder, but I never have.


I also put millet in the covered ground feeder and on the bird table if it is not windy.  As millet is so small and light it easily blows off bird tables.

In winter sometimes melt some lard and pour it over the millet and put it inside the ground feeder or on the bird table.  It does not turn it into a fatball, but the fat stops the millet blowing off the birdtable and gives birds the extra fat boost they need.  Many birds seem to love this.

So if you want to help the sparrows  and other birds try feeding millet.  You needn’t buy the PK Feeder. 


Both the tree sparrow and the house sparrow have been given the Red Status by the RSPB, which means they are in decline.  Red status means

  • ·  Globally threatened
  • ·   Rapid (> or =50%) decline in UK breeding population over last 25 years
  • ·  Rapid (> or =50%) contraction of UK breeding range over last 25 years   

Having found a bird food and a bird feeder that attracts a small flock of sparrows I feel I should keep the feeder topped up all the time.




Haith's - Trusted Bird Food Since 1937






Tree Sparrow

Tree Sparrow




Here is an article that other people have read  –



Which bird food do you mostly use to attract birds.

Don’t for get you don’t automatically need a garden.  See my BALCONY BIRDING  CATEGORY  .  Do you find ways to feed birds without having a garden?

Have a good day


Barn Owl Tragedy

Hi Trisha

the man from the hawk and owl trust came to check our barn owl box last week. He found a dead owl in the box and 3 eggs. Very sad. I wonder if it is the drought?


My reply

Hi Top Veg, What a sad story.  The owl must have lost strength, given up and gone back to its nest .

What did the Hawk and Owl Trust say?  Did they have any ideas as to what may cause it.

Surely there must be some water somewhere for the owl

I wonder if there are too many owls and not enough food.  As you said earlier if a number of Barn Owl boxes were put up and extra barn owls were attracted to the area there could be too many Barn Owls and not enough food for them.

Round here some of the verges are being cut short – right back to the hedge.  Barn Owls don’t seem to be able to hunt when the hedgerows are like that.  Has that been done in your area?

Otherwise I just don’t know.  I suppose we may never know.


Has anyone any knowledge of this happening in other areas.

We seem to have a decline in swifts and swallows and now this.

I keep visualising the Barn Owl slowly getting weaker and weaker, trying to survive,  and then not having the strength to go on any more. 

By pure chance yesterday I put some birdsong on Bird Table News and said these birds sounded cheerful.

What a difference today.  From cheerful singing to death in a Barn Owl Box.  That must be what happens all the time in nature – good things then bad things. 

Counting Sheep

I went birdwatching and found sheep instead!

How many sheep?  At the end of this short video there are more than two sheep.

Guess which area of the field the sheep will appear  from?

It’s just a bit of fun but give it a try.

Blackbird Facts

 Did you know that to find worms  Blackbirds use

  • sight,
  • sound 
  • feel    


They run and pause along the ground as they cover an area looking for worms.  They then stop to cock their heads and look on the ground for prey.

They cock their heads because their eyes are positioned laterally which gives them excellent peripheral vision.  The blackbird swings its head around to see its prey using one eye to see its food.  


Birds have no visible ears, but have ‘audile orifices’ covered with a thin layer of feathers to aid flying.

Blackbirds are unique that both ears are internally ducted to one organ which is between the two ears.  This  lets blackbirds discover which direction sound is coming from and is why blackbirds often tilt their heads.  They tilt their heads to get a better ‘position’ of where the sound is coming from and so where their prey is.

So sometimes when a blackbird pulls a worm from the ground  the blackbird has found the worm by HEARING it.


After looking and hearing Blackbirds  often finds a worm’s precise location by probing with its beak .

A blackbirds beak is very sensitive and can sense the tiny movement’ vibrations made by the worm which is under the soil


Blackbirds feed mostly on the ground and are also skilled at finding worms or insects under leaves. When blackbirds  hop about and toss leaves away they are not searching randomly for food but are using their excellent hearing to find the exact location of a tasty morsal.

So  insects are not found under leaves by chance


A blackbirds hearing is adapted to hear only noises that are important to them such as other bird  calls, movement of prey they are looking for and movement of predators that are looking for them.

So our common or garden blackbird is a unique bird – as are all our garden birds – but we take them so much for granted

Blackbird in summer

Blackbird in summer

Have you any blackbird facts or other bird facts you’d like to share with us.   Please just let me know if you have.