Early morning chatter in the birdfeeder.

Feeding birds is a form of prayer. Soul food. The small ritual of my early morning walk through the slumbering house, to get suet, bird seed and sugar water in the kitchen and then to quietly open the veranda doors and put out the food, clearing away any debris, grounds me.

Our resident Karoo Trush (Geelbek Lyster) dining on homemade suet

I pray and give thanks for a new day. I think how privileged Adam and Eve must have been to wander in the garden talking to God.

I think of people waking up hungry and uncared for. God, you promise to look after the smallest bird, provide care, give hope for the hopeless, the ill the lonely. Genesis 47:19 comes to mind: “Give us seed so we may live.”

I thank God for abundance in my life. Another day to live and breathe. Thanks for a loving family, a few good friends and my pets, and the birds. As the Chinese proverb says, singing because they have a song, not necessarily because they have an answer. Their song brings hope and joy.

The lyrics of this song, even though the artist is not a personal favourite, inevitably comes to mind (click on his name in the caption to listen to this beautiful ballad):

Source: Steve Hofmeyr YouTube. Loves the Light lyrics © Emi Music Publishing (south Africa) Pty Limit, Emi Music Publishing (sa) Pty Ltd

This morning the sunbirds are drinking sugar water at the lounge window. The chirpy cheeky chatter of the Marico Sunbird (Mariko Suikerbekkie), Amethyst Sunbird(Swartsuikerbekkie), White-bellied Sunbird (Witpenssuikerbekkie) is a constant sound. The speckled pigeons, doves, weavers, Southern Yellow-billed hornbills, the Lesser Striped swallows and a slew of other birds are swooping and singing because the can. I smile as I write, I live in the midst of a birdsong symphony!

And when night falls, the Western Barn Owls (Nonnetjie-uil) take the night shift and the soft call of the Marsh Owl(Vlei-uil) from the palm tree at my daughter’s bedroom window is comforting.

From afar the heart-wrenching cry of the fiery-necked nightjar (Afrikaanse Naguil) is a prayer. “Dear God deliver us,” we pray with the dust loving night birds, as farm murders and violence and theft continues unabated. Did you know that the English soldiers in the Anglo-Boer War said that is what they heard when the nightjars trilled in the night. They dreaded the sound, because the Boers also imitated the sound to communicate with one another.

I always bought suet balls in buckets at BWH. It has become so expensive. After searching, testing and with some awful flops on the way, I found an economical suet recipe. The birds love it!

I love watching them feeding from the comfort of my armchair. The Crested Barbet (kuifkophoutkapper), sparrows (Mossies), Karoo Trush (Geelbek Lyster), Cape robin Chat (Janfrederik) and the sweet dainty Cape wagtails (Kwikkies), who rule the roost around the pool, are regular diners on the veranda.

Feeding wild birds is a deceptively commonplace activity. Yet, it is one of the most intimate, private, and potentially profound forms of human interaction with nature. This perceptive study uncovers some of the remarkable depth associated with bird feeding and discerns that people who feed birds are alert to a wide range of additional natural phenomena,” said Darryl Jones, a professor at the Environmental Futures Research Institute and School of Environment and Sciences at Griffith University in Australia, who was not connected to the study.

One surprising result that the researchers found in this study was that when deciding how much to feed birds, people prioritized natural factors, such as cold weather, more than time and money. Most people believed that the effects of their feeding on wild birds was primarily good for birds, even though many observed and took action in response to natural events in their backyard that could impact the health of the birds and might partly result from their feeding.

“Overall, our results suggest that people who feed birds observe aspects of nature and respond in ways that may affect outcomes of feeding on wild birds. More work is needed to fully understand the positive and negative effects of feeding on wild birds and, thereby, the people who feed them,” said Dayer, whose research focuses on the human dimensions of wildlife conservation, applying social science to understand human behaviour related to wildlife.

Read full article: https://phys.org/news/2019-03-people-birds-impact.html