COLUMN: Feeding the birds

Standing at the living room window on Saturday morning, Anna and I watched the Blue Tit flit in and out of the bird box on the tree. It moved almost too quickly for the eye to follow, parachuting to the ground and then surging up again, as if checking the distance of the fall.

We hadn’t had a feathered resident in the box since it was erected last summer and so the Blue Tit’s ministrations felt long overdue.

Before I knew what was happening, Anna had opened the window and was moments away from chucking out her breakfast.

“What are you at, clown?” I demanded, the toast and Nutella on the cusp of being jettisoned.

“I was gonna give it something to eat?” she replied, her face asking its own question: What’s the big deal?

“If someone gives a bird some chocolate, they’re basically selfish,” I said.

Anna looked as me as if to say, “The aul boy must be letting air out somewhere. Sure chocolate couldn’t hurt a fly.”

I could see this was the case and so to clarify my point, I continued, “There’s a thing inside chocolate which is toxic to birds. It’s called theobromine – I think – and it can make them really sick. You know the way you’re not keen on dark chocolate?”

“Yeah,” Anna replied.

“Well, the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is for birds. So you should never give a bird any chocolate. Anyone that does isn’t looking at the bigger picture and only wants to feel good about themselves. They think by giving a bird a piece of chocolate, they are giving it a treat but the opposite is true.”

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