Chicken or the egg?
Monday, 8th September 2014
To get to the other side, of course.
That joke hasn't changed since I was at school in the 1970s. In fact, it hasn't changed a great deal since it was first told in 1847 in the Knickerbocker (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Knickerbocker). But what has changed since the 70s is bird populations; take, for example, the humble House Sparrow. Down on its luck and down in population by nearly 71% since 1977, according to the BTO.
I shared that statistic with a customer from Shropshire, who was fast to point out that she had all the sparrows, they were “all” in her garden. That's that sorted, then. Could it be that the (once popular in towns and villages) House Sparrow has simply "crossed the road" to "see what's at the other side". I'm not so sure that's possible today with more than 300,000 regular contributors to the annual RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch. Surely someone would spot the travelling tits, the commuting corncrakes or the cockney sparrows as they crossed to the other side in search of their Avalon?
Perhaps we should spend more time focusing on what came last and why? What can bird population declines tell us about the way we're running the planet? (Canaries and coal mines come to mind).
It's hard to fathom out what we can do to impact the bigger picture by ourselves, isn't it? One lone voice standing up for jaywalking chickens only ever attracts concerned glances; however, pulling together as a bird feeding community, we can slow down and (who knows) even reverse bird population declines if we combine our assets (our gardens) and efforts (feeding the birds).
Written by Simon H. King