Saturday, December 5, 2009

Feeding time

The birds who feed in our back yard are beginning to
bring their babies along. Sometimes a parent bird has
two or three in tow. The kids haven't yet got the hang
of this picking-stuff-off-the-ground-with-your-beak
thing, so follow Mum or Dad around in nervous
anticipation. The baby sparrows don't say much but
flatten themselves against the ground and vibrate their
wings tremendously as they wait with open beaks to be
fed. The baby starlings are beautiful to look at—dark
grey and fluffy—but painful to listen to: their harsh
screech would test the nerves of the most devoted
parent. I haven't yet learnt to tell the baby blackbirds
and thrushes apart, because young blackbirds aren't
black but brown and speckled. As big as adults already,
they always look slightly dazed; maybe their eyesight
is poor? Anyway, we have been feeding them all with a
home-made mixture of rice, corn and other nutritious
stuff. All the talk among the birds at the moment is of
course about Don Brash's 2025 Taskforce report and
what it will take for New Zealand to catch up with
Australia—in their case, I gather, a doubling of
wingspans in the next 15 years—so just as soon as I
can make out exactly what they're saying about it, I will
report back.

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