A SENTINEL OVER THE LAND – AND OTHER BIRD STORIES

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We have a dozen or so Rooks that come and feed at the patio and bird table during the colder months, and it’s quite an entertainment to see them busy.  All of the Crow family, there are the Rooks, black as coal but with a lovely delicate sheen on their coats.  A smaller member of the Crow family is the Jackdaw, they don’t mind the Rooks and feed together.  We also have the Hooded Crows which are very beautiful, grey and black and quite large just like the Rooks.  And lastly here we have the Magpies which also belong to the Crow family and are a very nice looking species, the sheen on their coats are is a beautiful Lapis lazuli blue.  A noisy lot of them, that is for sure, squabbling and getting quite greedy when hungry, taking several pieces of food at once in their beaks.  The beaks of the Rooks are enormous, Wow, they do look dangerous, and what with their beady eyes looking at you, they invite respect.  During breeding times in spring they bite off little twigs of the Birch tree in our garden and use them to make nests, these nests can get very large and are often done in empty chimney pots around here, the chimney sweeps know all about it.  The year we put in a stove, and had not used our chimney for some time, the chimney sweep knew of no better plan than to throw petrol down the chimney and put a light to it, it cleared the nest all right but gave my partner an awful fright as he was standing near the stove in the living room!  These members of the Crow family also seem to be good carers for their fledglings, we often see them feeding their young when the young are already quite big.  In Ireland there are still other member of the Crow family found, but not here in our neighbourhood.  Further into the mountainous area of West Cork there still are Ravens, a bird that I’d like to see more of.  And at coastal areas you will find the Chough, they are noticed by their bright orange beaks and pitch black feathers.  And there is the Jay which we don’t see here in the gardens either and he is one of the most beautiful birds of the Crow family with multi colours.

Our breakfast time is spent watching the birds as they too come for their morning food.  It is a very nice way to start the day.  Apart from the Crows we do have Doves, Finches, Tits, Sparrows, Dunnocks, Robins, Wrens, Starlings and more.  I feel very blessed to have this free wildlife around me, and it gives me immense joy to be able to feed and watch them from day to day.

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