Tough question of survival as our garden songbirds are increasingly falling as prey

ABOUT three years ago you kindly printed a letter I wrote about the loss of our garden birds due to magpies stealing eggs and chicks and a sparrow hawk killing all our sparrows.

You then printed a response from the local homing pigeon club, who were suffering bird losses which they were sure were down to hawk attacks.

I did also write to the RSPB with my concerns but they wrote back dismissing my thoughts and blaming changes in farming practices and loss of habitat. They had obviously not checked my post code, because we all know early cut silage, cereal crops, pest spraying and ripping out hedges do not happen here in the Pennines. My wife and I cancelled our membership.

What has prompted me to write in again was a feature on the BBC’s One Show on October 16. It glorified the killing success of a pair of peregrine falcons who lived on a cathedral. They examined the remains of the birds they had killed and these included estuary and woodland birds - odd as this city was far inland. They deduced that the night lights of the city allowed these hawks to kill birds at night whilst they migrate. This the One Show applauded - it came across as a success for our bird life!

Four years ago, I had pairs of chaffinch, green finch, gold finch, blue tit, great tit, long tailed tit, thrush, swallows, blackbird, dunnock, wren, robin and even a pair of gold crests nesting in our large garden, most robbed by magpies, hence the previous letter.

This year all we had were blackbird, dunnock, wren and robin, all birds that live in the undergrowth where hawks don’t venture. Our swallows also bred, but no finches and no tits.

Let’s look at the devastation a pair of hawks can cause, if each adult eats one songbird a day, a pair will kill over 700 in a year. During the nesting season, each adult will kill another two for the chicks. This will last for 60 to 80 days, so we are now at over 1,000. If two chicks reach adulthood, that’s another 700 in a year and so on. The toll on our garden birds is intolerable, they cannot recover.

The RSPB’s promotion of these killing machines is destroying our garden birds. These are the birds we like to see every day. We are encouraged to put up feeding stations in the winter.

These are a delight to these ever-increasing hawks who wait to pick off your treasured garden birds as they leave your bird table (or should I say “bait table?”)

There is an organisation that is trying to save our bird life, namely the Song Bird Survival Trust. I strongly advise all bird lovers to join this group. With a greater voice this alternative bird protection charity will hopefully be heard, and we might get a policy of controlling magpies, certain types of crows and hawks and give our important garden birds a chance, the RSPB is not doing its job.

I joined the Song Bird Survival Trust today. If you want to look after your feathered friends, please join as well.

P. B. Parkinson, Todmorden.