View From The Downs – November 2015
by Roger Linn
My view from the downs has been restricted a bit of late so I’ve spent some time considering the bird feeding station in our garden. Most people have a bird table, but this is different. It is a battleground on which the pigeons and I wage a relentless, no quarter asked or given, struggle.
In the beginning some years ago, the structure was simply a somewhat unusual birthday present. Standing some five feet high, it consists of platforms, extending bars and perches, knobs and trays of various sizes. The person who gave it to me said it had been made as occupational therapy by people in a Home in Ruislip. He said he didn’t think it was a Home for retired carpenters. I thought that it might stand a fair chance of winning the Turner Art Prize, but I’d no idea what the birds would make of it.
I needn’t have worried. They came in flocks. Sparrows, Tits, Finches and Robins all squabbled and fought for food on the platforms and hanging baskets. It was a huge success. Then the pigeons who nest in the church tower opposite my house arrived like a feathery mafia and immediately took control.
The structure seems made for them and at any one time up to four of these huge, messy, self-satisfied bullies perch on it, frightening away the tiny garden birds for which it had been designed. This is war. I’ve stopped putting bread out, but they come anyway. I’ve hammered small nails every half an inch into every perching bar and they simply dance on them. I’ve become extremely creative with string and created a kind of cat’s cradle designed to entangle any large bird that tries to land on it. The pigeons use it as a workout station. My dog is enthusiastic about chasing them of course, but they know he’s only kidding really and they return as soon as his back’s turned.
I’ve a feeling this could run and run, but then, I like a challenge.