A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the yellow strelitzia outside my study window. A few days later I had an inspiration. I would put a bird feeder in the branches of the Chinese Maple above the pale yellow flower, and enjoy the birds as they came down to feed.
I hunted around and could not find a feeder that I thought was attractive enough, so, for the moment, I compromised and moved the one which is outside my bedroom window – the one I don’t use very much because the birds wake a good half hour before dawn and begin to sing as they eat breakfast. I don’t always need to wake that early, and this feeder is only used from time to time.
So I trimmed a branch to hang the feeder where I wanted to put it. I filled it up with seed and, not having the opportunity to write that day, forgot all about it.
The next day I was delighted to hear birdsong outside my study window and sat down to work, prepared to enjoy the sight of the sparrows, weavers, doves and any other seed-eating bird who decided to call. I was eager to check my e-mails and forgot about the birds until I heard the flutter of wings as a large dove took off having eaten seed that had fallen to the ground.
I glanced up. Where is the feeder? There it is, right behind the door post, so I am unable to see it from my chair and desk.
Okay, then I’d have to move it and would do so without delay. I was reluctant to cut more branches so I grabbed a ball of string and, cutting a length, went out to tie the feeder to the creeper that was suspended from the fence to the tree.
The birds had not liked the disturbance and the following day I was unable to work in my study, so it was only this morning that I came through and turned my computer on.
As I waited for it to boot up I checked the feeder. It was almost empty (the birds in my neighbourhood don’t understand ‘This will have to last you for the week’.) But there was still quite a bit of seed on the ground.
“That’s okay,” I thought, “there will be doves and sparrows which will enjoy that seed.”
There was a lot of noise. It was not harmonious, but rather a case of “That’s my seed, go away and find your own.” I was determined I would not find it distracting. But, to be honest I did.
As I watched the sparrows, the pretty dove, and a weaver hop around picking up seed here and there I enjoyed the sight. I should have been writing, but this was a novelty and it would wear off.
I strained to recognise the little birds in the flower bed. I had caught their movement out of the corner of my eye, but could not identify them.
Bright eyes, brown in colour. A twitching, shiny nose. No. Wait. A nose? Birds don’t have noses.
No, but rats do. Two brown rats had found the seed I had put out for the birds with such love. Two brown rats, with shiny eyes and twitching noses and long tails. They gorged themselves. Somehow, with the safety of a closed door and windows and a good solid brick wall between me and them, I found them fascinating. The birds were not worried. The rats were enjoying themselves. I even found myself thinking they were actually quite pretty, sitting there on their haunches, enjoying the unexpected feast.
Well, it was fun for a while. There is still a bit of seed on the ground. The rats have gone, and the birds are still pecking around. But I think, just maybe, I’ll move the feeder back to its original home. So much wildlife outside my study window is not, perhaps, such a good idea after all. I enjoy watching creation, but this is overkill.