Open and closed

Over two decades I’ve done everything I can to encourage birds into my tiny garden. Our feeders are legion and, increasingly, plantings are there to give natural food such as berries and indirect food in the form of insects… although the latter is an end in itself as we need insects too. I’ve opened my doors to birds regardless of rarity, shyness, attractiveness or charm.

Established foreigners, like the Ring-necked Parakeets are welcome too. When they pop by and squark for a day or two we string up apples for them like this one yesterday.

Around 40 sparrows sit in the pyrocanthus ready to visit the feeders along with a dozen starlings. As many as twenty goldfinches can be waiting their turns too. Feral pigeons are not particularly welcomed but neither are they shunned and magpies, kestrels and sparrow hawks sometimes pop in even if that means an odd passerine disappears down a gizzard. That is the natural order of things.

We even tolerate tree rats (grey squirrels) despite their non-native status and destructive habits. It’s hard to ignore the charm of ‘our’ one with his white ear tufts. They occupy a legitimate niche, albeit illegitimately.

But the open door policy is NOT extended to the neighbourhood cats and we have tried everything to exclude them, with little success. Despite raising wire fencing another three feet and putting all sorts of obstacles at the points of entry still they come. Currently, three cats are regulars including the grey and white monster owned by my neighbour. To say I hate them is insufficiently vehement. Last week we found two corpses, a blackbird and a starling, mauled and left to rot. I have lost count of the number of frogs they have pawed to death too.

When will someone have to courage to legislate for cats in the same way as we have for dogs. Why should I tolerate someone’s murderous moggie in my back yard. When will there be a cat curfew? Why should they be the only animal kept by people that are allowed to roam free all night long? Why can’t this ‘animal loving’ country wake up to just how many birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles are lost every year to their pets’ ‘natural’ behaviour.

Surely, protection for the wild creatures that visit my property should not be compromised by someone else’s insensitivity?

Rant it out!
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