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Mind on the birdies at the ice lowsin

Whiles the news this week hae been taen owre by the weather an reporters gien oot dire warnins tae us aw aboot 'the beast fae the east', steyin safe, an heighlichtin the rid an amber alerts fae the Met Office, the Royal Society fir the Protection o Birds (RSPB) is pittin oot its ain rid alert pleadin wi awbody that loes wildlife tae gie natur a wee haund. Thae are awfy worrit aboot starlins, hoose sparras, blue tits, great tits, blackbirds an thair ilk wha thae say will be shockit by the steep sudden drap o the temperature. Thae are urgin awbody tae feed the birds or lay oot extra iffen thae awready dae it. An providin shelters fir the wee craiturs tae roost an keepit warm in, anither wey o helpin. Thae say if eneugh folk dae this it cuid mak a real difference tae savin the lives o mony o the birds desperate fir food an shelter. It wad help mair o thaim tae survive tae reach the breedin season.

I see it masel in ma ain gairden. Yestreen, whiles keekin oot ma windae at the lourin sky an blawin snaw, ma een wis catchit bi a wee blackbird. It wis juist sittin alane on the snawy grund; Its wings foldit but droopit doon. Thair wis nae doot in ma min the puir wee birdie wis fair wabbit. Sae weary, it didnae mak ony move tae flee awa whan I gaed oot an laid a puckle raisins an crumbs o breid doon aside it.

This pairt o the countrie hae seen a fair bittie o snaw an ice wioot muckle respite sin the back end o the year. Thoosands o birds wull awready be deid fae cauld an starvation sin thae cannae gae throu snaw an ice tae reach thair natural food. An that's afore the muckle Siberian blast cam this week bringin wi it temperatures an snaw lik the North Pole. Bitter cauld is ain o the biggest threats tae wee sangbirds wha need tae eat three pairts o thair weicht ilka day juist tae get eneugh energy tae keepit warm. Sae its mair lik as no that mony o oor wee gairden birds, thaim wha hae awready survivit a lang sair fecht tae sustain thirsels, wull be lik tae dee o starvation wi this latest harsh turn o natur.

Seeds, peanuts, breid an cake crumbs, porridge oats, bits o cheese, dried mealworms, suet baws, fruits sic as raisins an aipples, fat scraps, Spikken as a body that ay feeds the birds, ony or aw thaim gae doon verra weel! A bowl o fresh watter is a necessar tae; no anly fir thair drouth but tae keepit feathers in guid order. Pittin a wee baw in the bowl micht stop it fae freezin ower.

Thinkin oan the future an makiin a gairden mair a freend tae the birds, plantin evergreen bushes an pittin up a puckle o nestboaxes are guid fir giein shelter in haurd times. An it isnae aw ain-sidit. It fair gleddens the hert tae watch the wee acrobatic tits daein henners oan the hingin nut an seed feeders. Addin a bird table an bath tae a gairden turns folk intae bird-spotters an gies back sae mony oors o pleisure!

A dinnae ken that the wee wabbit blackbird wad be ain o the survivors, but we can ay hope.


This guest blog is by Elizabeth Thoumire.  An Edinburgh-born airtist drawin an paintin maistly animals an birds. She helps oot a bit at the organisation Hands Up For Trad wha wirk tae increase the profile an visibílity o Scottish tradítional muisic an cultur throu information, education an advocacy.

Read mair aboot Scots names for birds here.