Tag Archives: longform

They brought it.

My apologies for the terrible quality; I’ll try and bring the big guns to bear later. They’ll be back. They always come back.

I’ve started, over the past few days, to build a new bird feeder. It’s entirely different to the previous efforts; this is about building a Magpie-free space in which all birds of Starling-size and smaller can come and feed safely without having everything eaten in the space of ten frenzied minutes by what are effectively hungry, angry, vindictive flying children. Magpies are omnivores, and will eat anything that you or I can eat, and so much more. They can also work around by ingenuity or brute force any counter-measures that you can conceive of; they are strong, and clever, and persistent.

There are also too many of them. This year, the competition for food has heated up enormously, and they are getting more pushy, eating things that they would previously have passed up, more daring. They line the peaks of the rooftops, watching the gardens. I think that they know me, sometimes I hear squawks when I shake out a cloth or a breadboard, and they’re always in after I do anything in the garden, to see what’s changed.

So I heard a noise downstairs just now, the sound of wood falling, and thought that one of the pieces of wood that I had been varnishing earlier this morning had somehow fallen over. I had been careful about setting up, so even as I was running down, I was thinking that this was odd. No. I had been careful. There was a Magpie in the kitchen, which had come in to have a look at what I had been up to, because they can see it from outside, and the bird had come in from a door which was slightly ajar in a different part of the kitchen, and come around to have a poke at my work, to inspect it, to see how it is going. And poop on things, of course. I went to get the keys to open the big door to let it out, but no, it went around to the door that it came in by, and walked out. Casually.

The absolute cheek. I can’t wait for this feeder to be finished, they’ll hate it.

From Blanchardstown to the park, and just shy of 22 km in all. Might try for the full 27km menu next time. The road parts were occasionally scary though.

To make it harder for Magpies to clean out the peanut feeder and keep the smaller birds away, I made a cage. It works, up to a point. You can’t really keep Magpies out of anything; what they can’t solve through brute force, they solve through ingenuity, and vice versa, and if you defeat them on both levels, nothing else will get to whatever you’re protecting either. My idea is the increase the amount of energy they require to extract peanuts so that they spend more energy than they get from them, and hope that they’re smart enough to make this calculation too.

I think that there are too many Magpies in this area for the resources available to them, and they’re resorting to eating things in bulk that they would not normally be so keen on, such as peanuts. If anything is out there for any length of time, there can be up to 12 or more Magpies in the garden, checking it out. I took the feeders in because I felt that I was basically stocking Magpie feeders, and so encouraging them.

What pushed me into trying to solve the problem was the sight of a lean Greenfinch frantically dancing outside the kitchen door, trying to figure out how to get to the peanut feeder inside. Clearly, still some demand not being met out there for small birds. We’ll see how it goes, but I’ve already planned out a protected ground-level feeder for the ground birds that seem to have stopped coming.