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.

Sorry, birds.

About Mandy Hackland

My love in life is to encourage others to deepen their relationship with God. I write devotional material, stories and small group studies with that in mind. I live in South Africa and also love spending time in the bush, bird watching and walking. I do live in the city but make the most of the green spaces that surround me.
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