We received some inspirational entries for our bird story competition, and it’s been a truly tough decision on the top three. However, we have chosen and you can read them below. Many congratulations to the winners; your prizes are on their way.
1. Scruffy, by Mrs J Grasswitz
Will I ever see him again – my six summers’ friend? He is old now, his head has become very grey, and his face is speckled with the marke of age. His eyes are not so piercingly bright as he stands with his head on one side looking up at me; his step is not so jaunty now; he is nervous, hesitant, solitary – no longer prepared to preserve his dignity against the cheekiness of youngsters half his size.
Six years ago, things were very different. When he first appeared on the kitchen door step in May 1970, I thought what a scruffy-looking fellow he was, black coat sticking out at all angles, darker in the front than in the back, with a white spot under his chin, and white patches round his eyes; but I had noticed him two days earlier struggling to find his vociferous, ever-demanding baby, and I was flattered that he had come to me for assistance, so I gave him some of my sandwich whereupon baby appeared from nowhere and demanded the lot. So I gave Scruffy Pa some for himself while the baby was till stuffing, and he rushed off with it and hid under the dogwood where he ate in peace then came back for more.
After that he came every day. I would find him on the doorstep waiting for breakfast, dinner, tea, supper and in-between snacks, pursued by bubbling calls from his ever-hungry baby. He was such a devoted dad, spending most of his time hopping about with his beak full of goodies while Junior shrieked at him from various parts of the garden. A stranger intruded one morning – a really glossy magazine type. Scruffy gave him his marching orders several times but the message failed to get through, and eventually ended in a punch-up in the copse at the end of the garden, which was repeated frequently during the following weeks. Sometimes they let out a yell, but mostly all that could be heard was a violent fluttering of wings and then bodies rising and falling; I could watch their progress through the agitated rustling of the leaves, and every now and then one of the contestants appeared round a tree trunk or bush looking very surprised, then off he went again for the next round.
In the evenings Scruffy would sit on the chimney-pot, Glossy on the roof of the she, and they would hurl abuse at each other across the garden. Glossy won these contests hands down, he had a glorious voice – and didn’t he know it – whereas poor Scriffy’s voice seemed to break in the middle and end up with a funny sort of warble. July came, and the evening roof-top rumble ceased as the contestants took time off to rest and recuperate from the summer’s exertions. Scruffy abandoned the copse and spent most of his time in his favourite corner of the garden, sitting in the silverbell, watching the world go by. Sometimes I would catch him in the middle of a preening session; the first time I though he was dying, he looked so awful half-sitting, half-lying on his side, all puffed up with his beak wide open and eyes rolling. After a while he stood, shook himself, started preening and the repeated the whole process several times. When he was satisfied with the result he strolled over to the kitchen door where I waited for him with a piece of soaking wet bread – thirsty work all that cleaning.
As the summer wore on and junior no longer needed his Dad, he came to the back door on his own, a cocky, bumptious bird without the charm of his parent. Scruffy seemed a bit shyer, and a bit lost, and sparrows robbed him of his breakfast, so I had to make sure he got his way when they were not around. “All you think of these days is that bird”, said my daughter, in passing. My family all thought I was mad, of course, especially when I spent hours trying to take a photograph of Scruffy and Junior together. “Oh, no, you’re not hanging around after that bird again, are you?”. I told them they had no soul, and resolutely stayed put in the middle of the door-step so they had to step over me, with occasional exhortations to be quiet and don’t let anybody come out now, just to annoy them a bit more.
2. Mr Stumpy, by Mrs G P Young
Stumpy is a male blackbird that we first saw three years ago when he had just broken his foot. Although obviously in pain he continued to fetch food from the feeders for the young in the nest. Since then he has been a daily visitor, sometimes accompanied by his mate. His foot now faces backwards and he walks on his ‘ankle’ with the claws facing upwards; hence the name stumpy. He waits for us every morning and, if we are late feeding him, he will find a window or a chair so that he can see into the house and remind us that food is required.
He has raised several broods since and his mate has remained loyal. We like to think that without the daily food ration of suet, mealworms and sultanas he might have had difficulty maintaining a normal life.
Of course we benefit from his wonderful song and his friendship.
3. Terry the Nuthatch, by Sara-Lee Burton
Terry is our Nuthatch
or that’s what he’s called by me
he hangs out in the garden
notably my crab apple tree.
I have a pair of robins
sweet and quirky pair
They’re not too sure of Terry
especially when feeding (he doesn’t like to share).
A great thing happened recently
a female nuthatch came
we’ve not yet decided
an apt and fitting name.
One thing is for certain
Terry has a mate
this spring could well bring babies
for that I cannot wait!!