Our feathered friends
Hang out a feeder or put up a bird table in the garden, and colourful visitors will come flocking. Blue tits are like flashes of blue and yellow as they dart about, never staying still for very long. In spring, the male chaffinch puts on his smart breeding colours to attract the girls—pinky brown, a touch of green and blue, all set off with white banded dark wings—who could resist?
Go out into the woodlands and you might catch sight of a woodpecker—green or spotted—or a wary jay with its bright blue wing patch and striped crest. And on the riverbank, that brief, brilliant streak of orange and iridescent blue was very probably a kingfisher—rarely seen, but surely one of the most gorgeously coloured of British birds.
The smaller it is, the higher it registers on the cute-ometer. Wrens may only come in basic brown, but being so tiny, and with their stumpy upright tail and general perkiness, they are a delight to watch. Cuter still is the equally tiny long-tailed tit. Little fluffy bundles of white and dusky pink, with black wings and elegant long black tails, they flit from tree to tree in small, cheeping tight-knit groups. Nothing could be lovelier to see as they pass through your garden.
Sing your heart out
Another reason to love birds is for their song. If you’ve ever been up early (or late!) enough to hear the dawn chorus, you’ll know it’s one of the most joyous sounds there is. No wonder some experts say that listening to birdsong can be therapeutic.
And let’s not even get started on baby birds. They have that extra wide beak, loud voice and general air of fluffy hopelessness for one reason—it says, “Feed me. Feed me again! And it’s about time you FED ME SOME MORE!!” What do they care if mum and dad are ready to drop from exhaustion? With them it’s just “WORMS! CATERPILLARS! BRING IT!”
Free as a bird
Think of the eagle soaring majestically among the mountain peaks, the mighty albatross spending months on end aloft, the tiny swallow migrating thousands of miles each year. Who hasn’t dreamed of being up there, flying alongside them? That may be an idle wish, alas—but watching birds in flight from down here can still be an absorbing experience, whether its stately formations of geese or swirling swarms of starlings coming in to roost. Yes—one way or another, birds bring delight and beauty into our lives and we would be so much poorer without them.