Saturday 26 January 2019

Something about wood pigeons

Kelly? Woody? Emily?

I've been a keen and diligent bird feeder since my late teens. 

In my younger years our old black-painted garage would have families of sparrows sunbathing on top of it on a hot day, probably forty or fifty in total, happily flocking down to grab anything I'd put out for them.

Meanwhile, wood pigeons were something I only read about in books and had never seen. 

So, like many an observer, I've noticed and regretted the sharp decline in sparrows over the years - though this year, to my delight and astonishment, our garden has featured a troupe of some twenty of them. 

Wood pigeons, meanwhile, have gone from nowhere-to-be-seen to being everywhere (like Clare Balding), pretty much in the course of the last decade.

Morecambe is full of them. Roofs, gardens, kerbs, industrial estates, parks, etc, are brimming with them.

The shy wood-dwellers have rapidly become suburban mainstays, like Terry and June back in the 1980s. And in very large numbers. 

My own garden wood pigeons are almost tame. I call them Woody and Kelly, though I can't tell one from the other. (Quiz question: Why 'Woody and Kelly'?). 

The look of a wood pigeon is very Dickensian, plump and snooty-looking, a sort of avian Emily Thornberry. 

I tell you this because of a BBC article I read today, based on the latest Big Garden Birdwatch, which found a 57% decline in sparrows since 1979. But - and this is a really dramatic statistic - there's been a 950% (950%!!) increase in wood pigeons. That's a very explosive explosion of wood pigeons.

So here's to Woody and Kelly - and also to the return of our sparrows (post-Brexit)! 

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