Where do woodpigeons go at night? I don’t mean the scruffy inner city birds that jostle and flurry about your feet hoping for a crumb to fall their way as they spot you eating from three miles away… I mean the plump grey birds with pink waistcoats and confident eyes, they have an assured air that places them above their city cousins.

I have seen city pigeons sleeping, huddled desperately on concrete ledges, scrabbling for footholds. But where do woodpigeons go? I see them in my mother’s garden, she has a bird table, and I watch the woodpigeons fighting and circling over the seed, with all the ferocity of a bunch of portly grey suited businessmen, squabbling outside a fast food restaurant in their lunch hour. Perhaps they book into Travel Lodges…

I am not too keen on birds. (Having four cats I know rather more about the inner workings of birds than I ever wanted to.) However, I enjoy seeing the dainty prettiness of bluetits and blustering starlings as they visit my mother’s bird table. The magpies are a sight to behold, smart, dapper birds with their immaculate white shirt fronts, smooth black sides and iridescent tail feathers, gleaming in the sun like Labradorite. They loudly declaim their arrival, seize the best bits of food and fly off in a clatter of wings and beaks. I wasn’t very pleased to discover that some bird had stamped all over my mother’s hanging baskets, in search of nesting material, leaving muddy clawed footprints all over her white pansies that I had carefully planted for her the day before.

My son has a budgie. Being a ‘cat person’ really, I never intended him to have a budgie, but it so happened that the budgie found us… At first he seemed suitably grateful for his rescue, but as the years have gone by, he has become rather imperious and misogynistic towards me.

“Hello, just vacuuming the room,” my back is turned for a minute.
“Vacuum that, woman!” as I saw the bird deliberately and with malice aforethought, chuck a great beakful of seed on the floor.
“You are not meeting my standards!”
And this from someone who craps in their own seed bowl.

However, I suppose he’s quite pretty, with his carnival attire of yellow and green. What’s more, my son loves him, so for the foreseeable future, this grumpy, biting, screeching bird will remain safely under my wing – if you’ll pardon the pun!


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