Thursday, January 17, 2013


Where are the birds?

Last autumn/winter we began welcoming birds to Le Ripe in earnest, setting up three bird tables which we kept richly supplied with seeds, scraps, crumbs and water. And so many birds came to eat: robins, magpies, collared doves, redstarts, blackcaps, tits, greenfinches, chaffinches and the delightful nuthatches with their elegant Egyptian eye paint. 
Unfortunately we have very few photos of these birds: we never seem to have the time to watch and wait in order to capture good shots of them.  
blue tits feeding around the trough before it was restored

a redstart on the fence

magpies feeding at one of the bird tables

This winter, however, we have seen very few birds in general. I wonder if it is thanks to the milder weather keeping them in more northern territories, or because I have been rather slow to set out the bird food this year?
Today I decided to set matters right and bought several bags of feed from the shop locals call il Mugnaio, the Miller, in Panzano (once upon a time there was a working mill there). A couple of these products were new to me: panico, which turns out to be foxtail millet, to hang from tree branches, and something called Vigorpast whose ingredients resemble those of the bird puddings my children and I used to create for city birds when we lived in Milan. This sticky feed consists of goodies such as (and I quote): 

"fruits, backery products, vegetable by-products, oils and fats, cereals, vegetable proteins extracts, sugars, yeasts, seeds, mineral substances, natural flavourings.."

But the best part is what this energy bomb is going to do for the darling birds, according to the manufacturer (again I quote verbatim):

"Vigorpast is the best mash for insectivorous and frugivorous birds. The base of its formula is a high content in fruits. It is considered the food more similar to that free birds prefer. It is particularly desirable to BLACKBIRDS,THRUSHES,FIELDFARES, LARKS, NIGHTINGALES, GRAKLES and in general to all birds with thin beaks. 
It favours the general sense of vitality therefore stimulating the tendency to sing."

Now, isn't that charming?
If only we could all boost our vitality in such a way, thereby stimulating 
our tendency to sing.
No doubt the world would be a better place for it.


  1. I think your bird photos are very good! It's hard to capture something that keeps its distance and is in motion all the time!

    I do like the idea of "stimulating the tendency to sing". I guess these birds don't sing for their supper but rather sup for their singing?

  2. nice thought....and thanks for comment...
    I hope to do a post on local and transitory bird species soon....

  3. The 'grakle' btw, is probably the North American grackle, I think they are actually referring to the Italian 'gracchio' which in English is a chough..


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