Sandy's Garden ... Garden Birds

We used to have a pet budgie.

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 1:06 pm

A bird which liked to play – hide-and-seek was a favourite, as was sliding along a glass-topped table

He loved having his back stroked and being tickled behind his ears.

He was house-trained to the extent he would land on the edge of the table when we were enjoying a meal, walk across to stand beside the edge of one of our plates and would wait there to be offered a taste of what we were eating.

Falkirk Herald gardening guru Sandy Simpson

In his eight years he never once relieved himself on the table-cloth.

He also tried desperately hard to communicate with us.

We understood when he wanted to have the door of his “house” – we never called it a cage – closed or opened so he could be taken outside into the garden.

His friendship was our reward for the many, many hours we spent with him fod endless hours of pleasure.

But we like to think that he knew how lucky he was to be looked after, to be fed, to be always clean, to live in a clean house, to be warm, to share our home and, after his stroke, to have us as his carers.

Captive bird he undoubtedly was – but few captives enjoy such a long, carefree life.

These musings were prompted by the release, a few days ago, of the results of the Big Garden Birdwatch 2021, the 42nd annual wild bird survey organised by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

During the last weekend in January, 1,019,802 people took part, stopping other activities for an hour to count the birds they saw, ignoring any birds that were still in flight and only counting those that landed

As reported by the RSPB in the manner of Alan Freeman’s ‘Pick of the Pops’, in top spot was the house sparrow, a non-mover compared with 2020; second came the blue tit, up one place; and third was the starling, down one place. Up one place to number four was the blackbird, followed by the woodpigeon … down one place … and the robin, up two places.

The other four places in the Top Ten were claimed by the great tit … a non-mover … the goldfinch … down two places … the magpie … up one place … and the long-tailed tit, down one place.

In Scotland, the house sparrow remains at the top of the rankings as the most commonly seen garden bird. Starlings stay in second place, but numbers are down 14% compared to 2020.

The blue tit came third in Scotland, followed by the blackbird, with the chaffinch dropping two places to number five. The woodpigeon, robin, great tit, coal tit and goldfinch filled the remaining spots in the Top Ten. Goldfinches saw the greatest recorded decline, falling four places from sixth position last year, with numbers 47% down on 2020. I chose not to take part in the survey.

But I wonder what position the wren occupies, or the rook, both species which are much more common in my garden than coal tits or goldfinches. And it’s no surprise to learn that budgies don’t rate a top ten ranking.

Ours was a real rarity.