‘Aw, aren’t they sweet?’
Blackie spoke from underneath the bird feeder, where he was busy hovering up fallen seeds scattered by the little blue and yellow fluffy balls.’
‘Six this year,’ crowed Blue, puffing out her chest with pride.
‘I hope you know what you’re doing, Blue.’
‘Whatever do you mean?’
‘Letting your babies eat from bird feeders instead of teaching them how to forage.’
‘I’m giving them the best start, the best vitamins around.’
‘It’s spring! The hedgerows are full of nutritious shoots and insects.’
‘But it takes ages to gather enough food for the day. If they come here, they have so much more time to play.’
‘But you know, back in the day, humans hadn’t used to put seed out at this time of year, so that fledglings like yours would learn about natural food sources.’
‘Yeah, but since then Springwatch has been on the tele to raise awareness of us birds and what with the fantastic marketing of RSPB products and other wild bird food companies, there is never a shortage of seed.’
Blackie flew up and sat on the fence with a cackle.
‘Short-sighted, Blue. You mind my words, you’ll regret this faddy diet, they never work in the long term you know. What happens when the humans in this house go on holiday and there is no seed put out for two weeks? Answer me that.’
‘I’ll show them how to forage then.’
‘By then you could have flown into a window, been eaten by a hawk or a cat. What happens to your precious babies then?’
Blue froze, her beak set in a strange line.
Nevertheless, she turned to her fledglings.
‘Come on you lot, let’s go and investigate that damson tree. Lovely sweet shoots and loads of ants.’
The biggest fledgling flew over to his mum.
‘Mum, that’s so old-fashioned. Seed is best, foraging is boring. You said so yourself.’