Sunday 5 February 2012

Taking pity on the birds

With the weather currently so cold, most sensible human beings are spending most of their time indoors, protected from the elements and warmed by central heating. Our friends the birds unfortunately don't have that option. Today I have been doing my bit to help them survive.

Female Blackbird

Since I didn't think I could persuade the birds to sunggle down out of the wind inside a fleece-lined box or anything like that, I reckoned that I could at least assist by providing some food and drink. I put out lots of bread, but I augmented this with a big dish of seeds for the ground-feeding birds to enjoy, as well as a handful on the hanging bird-table for the Tits and Finches that prefer to eat at a safe height above any marauding felines.

This seed mix has a lot of sunflower kernels in it, and those are by far the most popular with the birds that visit my garden. I love to watch the Tits feeding. They swoop down, grab a sunflower kernel and take it up into one of the branches of the "Fish tree", where they hold it firmly with their claws whilst devouring it with their beaks. Then rapidly back for another seed... They must eat dozens a day each. The only birds that actually eat sitting on the feeder seem to be the Goldfinches. The others prefer Take-Away.

Bluetit grabbing a seed

It's easy to forget that birds also drink as well as eat, and when the temperature is low it is often difficult for them to find water. My birdbath / drinking-water receptacle was frozen solid today:

I took out a kettle full of boiling water and melted the ice. The trouble is, I'll probably need to do this every few hours, because the water will soon freeze again.

I was I glad I only needed to be outside for a short while. I retreated indoors and made some Butternut Squash soup:

This soup is an old favourite. Very tasty and very quick and simple to make. Cook the Butternut in some light stock with some lightly fried onion and a bit of seasoning (I used a small quantity of Mixed Spice and two small chillis, along with salt and black pepper). After about half an hour, when the squash is really soft, allow it to cool a bit and then zuzz it up in a liquidiser. That's it.

I served mine with garnish of parsley and a little drizzle of our home-made chilli oil.


  1. I thought for one moment you had provided the birds with soup because the bird bath was iced up.

    Our birds love sunflower hearts too!

  2. The birds in our garden are eating the bread and seeds faster than we can put it out, bless 'em it must be really hard for them.

  3. Hi Mark. Yes I too have been out every day feeding the birds although I managed to take a most undignified tumble down the icy steps on my way out to feed them today! Still-they got fed!!

  4. Ptakom trzeba teraz koniecznie pomagać, bez nas będzie im trudniej żyć. Mam karmik, sypię słonecznik i patrzę na ptaki zza firanki. Zauważyłam podobne zachowanie poszczególnych ptaków, jak Ty.Miło było tu trafić. Pozdrawiam. *** The birds are sure to help you, without us would be harder for them to live. I karmik, sleeps sunflower and watch the birds from behind the curtain. I noticed similar behavior of individual birds, as you do. It was nice to get here. Yours.

  5. I hang suet blocks for the birds and they love them, especially in this weather. They certainly don't last long.

  6. Nice photo of the bluetit. Your soup looks good too. The frost photos in your last post were really good, yeah, think you could design some new fabric patterns or wallpaper etc.

  7. That is some dedication, changing out the bird bath every few hours.

    Butternut squash soup is one of my favorite fall/winter dinners. I love to put a dollop of sour cream into the bowl with it. I also hear that some people bake the seeds like you would do to a pumpkin seed, and use that for a garnish. I have not done it yet, but is sure sounds tasty.

  8. I feed the birds, an awful lot of it too, seeing we live amidst woodlands and fields. The place is heaving with all sorts. And they are lovely to watch.

  9. I read some article years ago about how bad it was to feed the birds, something about them not migrating as soon as they should and because they congregate around the feeder it makes them easier to be preyed upon. And I have actually seen my cats try for birds at the feeder and one day I had a big broad winged hawk swoop down to my feeder WHILE WE WERE STANDING OUTSIDE! Michelle was 4 and the hawk was so big and swooped so close that I automatically grabbed her and covered her. Anyway, I have never fed the birds since.

  10. There have to be chillis! I have a cartoon image of you hanging bright red chillis from the feeder to see what the birds think . . .

    no . . . !

    Soup looks good.

    If the ground were frozen and the water too - I'd probably be grateful to risk a cat rather than starve. It's a problem though. Where I live almost every household owns at least one, often two and sometimes more cats.

  11. I always feed the birds. The ones that stay all winter .include junco, chicadees, sparrows and house wren. I was heartened yesterday to hear the song of the cardinal. Spring is coming, though there is plenty of winter left. @ Becky - we have a neighborhood hawk as well! It occasionally surprises me, at about 18" tall, it is beautiful!

  12. I think your birds must be quite grateful to you to be provided with such a nice seed mix and water every few hours. In my place, it's during summer that we keep out water for the birds.

  13. Your butternut squash soup is like a shining plate of sunshine, it looks so warm and comforting. And as for the birds in our gardens in winter, we leave the wood shed open for them, and I am out every hour or so to break the ice on the water bowls, as well as feeding them of course. Your photos, as always, are wonderful. Karen


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