Sadly House Sparrows have declined by 60% in London and many other cities in the United Kingdom since 2004. I remember them in very large numbers on the bird feeders when I was younger but in our London borough I have hardly seen any for years. This year in early spring, a pair started visiting our bird feeder. I would look out for them as they came backwards and forwards. If one arrived on it’s own it would sit on the top of our hedge and call loudly until it’s mate appeared. They were clearly feeding chicks and we waited hopefully for the signs of any youngsters. Gradually over the summer several youngsters arrived and we think they must have raised two clutches as now we have 10 to 15 house sparrows visiting every couple of hours.
They sit in the hedge waiting their turn to go on the feeder and we can hear their chatter all day long. This winter we are going to set up some nesting boxes in the hope they will nest again in the spring. They may cost nearly as much to feed as the aviary birds but we still are very happy to have them in our garden.
The first day of November has arrived and I’m afraid the aviary garden is looking rather untidy. Fallen leaves are everywhere and it is going take a lot of hard work to get it to this stage.
However inside the house our cockatiel chick is settling in very well. He is gaining in confidence and playing with his toys. We have called him Pichu as he is the younger brother of another cockatiel we have in the aviary called Pikachu who looks just like him. Even though he is only a young bird I can tell he is a boy by his song and behaviour. He sings (tunelessly) all day and has that sort of bossy way about him that lots of the boys have!
Pichu The Cockatiel
We are about to start letting him out of his cage soon in a safety proofed room so hopefully all will go well and the next stage in his taming will be successful.
I have hand reared many cockatiels with mainly very good results and love doing it. They live together in a separate small aviary and are a pleasure to look after. When I am in there they chat to me and will come and sit on my shoulder. Although they are tame they have lost the real closeness they had when they were very young. We have often thought we would like a very tame cockatiel in the house again and our lovely lone chick from this year seems to fit the bill perfectly.
Although I handled him often as a chick, since fledging and being in the aviary he has become quite wild so it will be quite difficult to make him very tame. The first day he was in he spent most of the time peeping over the edge of the cage to see what was going on.
Pichu The Cockatiel
By the next day he had brightened up and was sitting on his perch shouting loudly along to an Abba song! Today I have been putting my hand into the cage just to rest next to him several times a day. Already he seems a bit more settled with me doing this and doesn’t panic too much. Hopefully after a few days of this he may be ready for me to offer him some millet in my hand. I know these early stages can take several weeks so I will be patient and record how we get along.
Pichu The Cockatiel Sitting On A Perch
The Cockatiel chick is 13 weeks old and has done so well. We have bought him into the house today to keep our house cockatiel Sammy company. He has got a bit wild flying around in the aviary for several weeks but he has had the benefits of parent feeding and weaning which builds his immune system for the future. Hopefully with work and patience he will become tame and enjoy his new life with our family, I will record the progress as we teach him. I have made the first video of his life as a chick to young adulthood. We have called him Pichu.
We have four Pekin Bantams and I love keeping them. They are friendly, very tame and have a really sweet way about them. I would recommend them to anyone who wants to keep hens but are a bit short of space. Their housing is smaller and they don’t eat very much. They have cute feathered legs and enjoy being handled. The only downside I can think of is they often go broody but then that can be a plus point if you want them to hatch some eggs and those cute legs can get quite mucky in bad weather. They can be as noisy as full size hens though and Molly our Pekin Bantam often announces for a full five minutes to the neighbourhood that she has laid an egg and yet we have one little Bantam called Honey that I have never heard utter a single sound! They have completely won me over though and now I cannot imagine a time I wouldn’t keep them.
It has been a warm day today and although this evening had the threat of rain as we walked the dogs it never happened and it was a beautiful end to the day.
An Evening Rainbow
We’re making the most of these summer evenings as they disappear very quickly and all we will have is our memories of these days until next year.
A Summer Evening In Stanley Park Carshalton
I have hanging baskets all around the garden. In the front garden I love a splash of pretty colours all year round. In the back garden I have been experimenting with some longer lasting ones with more bee and butterfly friendly plants. We have lots of natural more wildflower type plants all around the back garden and I thought I would try some of these in a hanging basket which will hopefully flourish next year.
I have added a clump of valerian, one of my favourite plants, that has pretty pink flowers from spring well into the summer with a sweet smell. Valerian has been used as a medicinal herb for hundreds of years and bees and butterflies love it. The second plant I have added is Herb Robert, a native member of the geranium family which flowers from spring to autumn. The leaves if rubbed on the body are said to repel mosquitoes but after trying it myself I think it may repel everybody else also! Finally I have added Oxalis or pink shamrock which flowers from about June to September and has a lovely way of closing its flowers when it gets dark.
It all looks a bit tatty at the moment as I have divided clumps around the garden but hopefully by next spring they will be established and flower all summer attracting more bees and butterflies than the ordinary annuals sold for hanging baskets.
Valerian, Pink Shamrock And Herb Robert Hanging Basket
I have decided that Speckles one of our young cockatiels in the aviary is just too naughty. At every opportunity he has to push in front of the camera and his little character just shines out. He is the bird equivalent of a person who likes to be in the spotlight. Diego the Diamond Dove is enjoying a swing in the aviary until Speckles photobombs the video.
I’m worried about the little cockatiel chick. He is at the age where his parents leave him alone for much of the day. Normally he would snuggle up with his siblings but as he is all on his own and on the floor he wanders about getting himself into trouble. I keep lifting him back into the corner but the adventuring spirit returns and off he goes again . I will be so relieved when he gets to the age when he can fly up with his parents. I think he will get a surprise as to how many cockatiels live in the outside section of the aviary.
The Cockatiel Chick 3 1/2 Weeks Old
I didn’t really manage to get any jobs done in The Aviary Garden today as I had such a lot on but I did get to Poundland and bought two new pretty hanging basket brackets for the new bird feeding station.
Hanging Basket Brackets From Poundland
It’s a shame I had so little spare time today as most of the day was nice and sunny. Our cat Cleo who clearly was no where near as busy as me spent the morning snoozing in one small strip of sun in the kitchen. What a hard life!
Cleo The Cat Enjoying A Sleep In The Sun
The cockatiels enjoyed the sunshine as they always do, they are very cheerful birds. Yesterday I filmed the youngsters playing with their swings. They make me smile as the older ones group together looking disapprovingly at all their antics. I suppose they are a lot like people really.
A few days ago I visited the ponds and Ecology Centre in Carshalton. We really enjoyed watching all the water birds as did a local fox who was hanging around the waters edge! It has given me lots of ideas for my wildlife garden. I just wish I had as much space as they have.
We had an old fence post in our garden left over from when we replaced part of our fence. I decided to make a bird feeding station from it and have added a hanging basket bracket to it to hang the bird feeder from. I think I’ll take a trip to Poundland soon and buy a few more brackets then we will have a new bird feeding station for virtually no cost.
Bird Feeding Station From A Fence Post
I can’t believe how well the little chick is doing. He has feathers now and a tail. What a good job his parents are doing.
I love sitting up at the end of The Aviary Garden. Whether its at the end of the day or early in the morning it is a little peaceful oasis where I sit and have a cup of tea and watch the birds. I have been trying to encourage as much wildlife as I can into the garden and as long as the all the birds are secure I love to watch the foxes sitting in the sun up there.
I have had an old jam pan I bought at an auction that I had intended to use to keep plants in but have decided I would make a small wildlife pond with it. I doubt it is big enough to entice frogs and toads but at least it is a water supply for passing mammals and birds. I have planted a mixed hawthorn and crab apple hedge, a butterfly bush and other bee friendly plants. I’m hoping it will pay off and all kinds of wildlife will visit.
Wildlife Pond From Old Jam Pan
In my quest to use as many recycled items in the garden as possible I have used another old jam pan purchased at the same auction to plant the lavender in. The wooden and metal chairs were bought at a charity sale for £5 each.
Old Wooden Garden Chairs
The stones we have put around the pond were all dug up in our garden. Our house was built in 1908 on what had been a very old farm. When I looked on an old map of the area exactly where our house was farm buildings had stood. Parts of the old walls of the farm buildings are still all around the garden. Whenever I dig up a piece I use it and display it. Comparing them to old walls on other local buildings I think they date back to the 18th century at least. Now that is recycling!
We hoped to sit up there after dark as it is so peaceful and have added some solar powered lanterns to the aviary. I think we may have to add a few more though to be able to see what we are doing!
The Aviary Garden At Night
I filmed this video in The Aviary Garden just as the sun was getting low and the birds were all having their final look around before they settle for the night.
The last month in London seems to have been one or two sunny days then cloudy and rain for a few days. I have spent the last few weeks working frantically on jobs that need doing in the garden when it is nice and then catching up with my work while it is raining. Saturday had been sunny in parts but then torrential rain for an hour or two but yesterday was sunny all day. I managed to get a few jobs finished I had been meaning to do for a while which I will write about tomorrow.
We have put a new mirror in the aviary and Vinnie our budgie loves it. Vinnie was found a few years ago exhausted on allotments near us. Unable to trace his owners the person who found him gave him to us to live in our aviary. He is such a cheerful little budgie, I can hear him chattering all around the garden. I wish his previous owners could see how happy he is.
The cockatiels are getting used to their new feeding station and wait each day to see what treat I am going to put in there. It’s getting quite a challenge to see what different treats I can find for them.