The New Feeder

IMG_0893As a Christmas present to myself, and to the birds, I decided to buy a new bird feeder. I don’t usually include peanuts on the bill of fare, but this terracotta acorn rather took my fancy. I dangled it from a branch of next door’s cherry tree, filled it up, and sat back to see what happened.

“Well,” I thought to myself. “For once, the little birds will have somewhere to feed that isn’t mobbed by squirrels or bigger birds”.

And to start with, I was right.

Great Tit checking out the new feeder

Great Tit checking out the new feeder

But not for long.


Jay (Garrulus glandarius) sussing out the new feeder

I have been visited by Jays before. With the oak trees of Coldfall Wood less than a quarter of a mile away, it’s not surprising that they sometimes pop in. In the fall, Jays eat thousands of acorns and bury what they can’t eat immediately. Many an oak seedling has started its life as a forgotten part of a Jay’s larder. But it has been over a year since I’ve seen a Jay. How did this one work out that there was something of interest? I know of their intelligence, but their food-finding ability is uncanny.

IMG_0872The Jay is one of the shyest of the British crows and is also the most brightly coloured. This has not always been to its advantage: the iridescent blue wing feathers were much coveted by milliners, and were used to make fishing flies. These, coupled with its  striking russet-pink body feathers, and the sharp black-and-white markings on the face, combine to make a bird that looks, as W.H. Hudson once wrote, ‘not altogether unworthy of being called the British Bird of Paradise’. Many a novice birdwatcher has mistaken it for something altogether more exotic and rare, such as a Roller.

A good view of those turquoise wing feathers

A good view of those turquoise wing feathers

The bird turned his head from side to side, trying to judge his angle of approach. After all, the feeder was hanging from a flimsy branch, and had no obvious perches.

IMG_0892Not that that was going to stop him.

IMG_0888Each visit was so fast that it felt like a smash and grab. The jay hoovered up a beakful of peanuts and flew off.

IMG_0885It was as if I’d imagined my visitor. Surely nothing so bright and daring could have stopped by this ordinary suburban garden? The feeder swung gently from side to side, rocked by the Jay’s volition, until finally it hung still. When I checked it later, it was as if it had been wiped clean. Not a single peanut was left.









13 thoughts on “The New Feeder

  1. John Wooldridge

    I’m lucky here in North Wales that when I manage to get my rotund frame onto the trails, especially around Nercwys woods, Jays are a relatively common sight. Once found the remains an unfortunate victim of a suspected Sparrow Hawk and saved the beautiful blue wing feathers for a fly tying work colleague.

  2. Caro

    I love your blog! We have quite a few jays around Walthamstow & last year there was a pair nesting in the tree outside my house. Some years ago I was driving up Theobalds Road and a flash of blue caught my eye – a jay in Grays Inn Square Gardens! Clever birds..

  3. Janet M

    I saw your blog the first time when I signed up for GA’s blogging class. You are such a talented writer. Are you having fun with your blog? I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to write when I signed up for the class, and so far it has been an interesting journey.

    1. Bug Woman

      Thank you, Janet! I am having a wonderful time with the blog. I love finding things to write about twice a week – it’s made me pay closer attention to what is going on around me, and has helped me to get a better understanding of the plants and animals within my half-mile ‘territory’. I would recommend it to anyone who has a passion for a subject – if you are persistent, you will definitely find other people who share your enthusiasm. I have concentrated on creating the best blog that I’m able to every week, and have tried not to worry about how many ‘followers’ I have or what’s going on on Twitter or Facebook, though it is lovely when people let you know that they enjoy your work. In my view, the most important thing about writing a blog is that you should enjoy it – then, the joy of creating it shines through.

  4. Jenny Glover

    Google chucked your lovely blog over the fence at me during a search for ‘terracotta bird feeder’. I’ve so enjoyed reading your posts, which are close to my own interest in the language of ‘urban wildness’, which I hope to investigate in a new blog once I can walk better again and get out to photograph. Looking forward to reading more of your fascinating words!


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