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113 sleeps until Christmas!

Tuesday, 2nd September 2014

Yesterday I drove past a sign informing motorists there’s only 113 sleeps until Christmas. Why the countdown? I was driving past a turkey farm.
The countdown serves two purposes; it reminds motorists to place their turkey order and it reminds the farmer that he only has 113 sleeps to get his birds in the best shape (and size) he can as, bird weight = turnover. 
 
A little further down the road, I passed a pub inviting travellers to “Book your Christmas dinner today! Turkey sourced locally.”
 
These are not good signs for turkeys.  
 
Although wild birds don’t have the luxury of knowing for definite where their next meal is coming from (unless they frequent a Haith’s customers’ garden) they, too, are affected by the Christmas countdown as it signals the return of winter.
 
The mention of Christmas reminded me that it wasn’t that long ago that winter was seen as the traditional time to feed the birds. Now of course we feed them all-year-round and wild birds themselves (and the lack of “natural” food) drive demand for supplementary feeding.
 
The “proper winters” of the past and heavy snowfall were probably the prompt that it was time to throw out a few handfuls of seeds and kitchen scraps to the hungry Robins and sparrows. I’m being careful here not to suggest that we don’t have the hard weather of yesteryear, because who knows what’s in store for us (and the birds) this winter? We know what’s in store for the turkey, of course. But let’s spare a moment to think about this year’s fledglings facing winter for the very first time...
 
There’s no doubt in my mind that our gardens have become one of the few habitats that is generally improving and providing a home for some of the many threatened species that are finding the countryside less and less hospitable. As a nation we need to still do more, though.
 
Perhaps I should put a sign out for motorists: How many sleeps until Britain’s wildlife goes silent?

Birds need us, and I'd venture to say that we need them (before, during - if you so wish, and after Christmas). 

Recent posts:

Gardening for Wildlife

What are feathers for?

How often should we feed the birds?


 

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