I now very little about birds (feathered variety). So I am

asking for your help on this one.

The snow has only just melted in Newcastle Upon Tyne

and we could get more. Yet this weekend Mrs Blackbird
has started telling me off and challenging me when I go
into the garden for a smoke. This is a sure sign that she
is feeling broody. But surely it is far too early in the year
for such friskiness.

So, perhaps an ornithologist out there could tell me - is

she doing the right thing or should I be having a word
with her and trying to dissuade her from making a
mistake that could end up with a load of frozen baby

Also, has anyone heard the first lawnmower of spring yet?

(Readers from northern, temperate climes only need reply).



  1. hiya MP, I wouldn’t worry about it, birds aren’t that silly. They start looking round for potential nesting spots around about the start of Feb, so she’s not outrageously early. Birds usually scout round for a couple of weeks looking for a good spot before they start building. And according to my diary my plants at the allotment started putting out shoots in the third week of Feb last year, which means the plants are probably only four or so weeks away from waking up from their winter sleep too. So don’t dissuade her – nothing’s nicer than a bird nest in the garden with baby birds tweeting every time the parents come back with insects in their beaks. I had that one year, it was fabulous.
    PS (Maybe she’s concerned for your health)

  2. Male blackbird: “You know what, you’re just bonkers”
    Female blackbird: “Yes, but that’s why I think we should move in with Mad Priest. Look, there he is again! Let’s shout rude words at him!”

  3. Why aren’t you at church, anyway, MP, on this fine Sunday morning? …

    Oh that’s right, there’s another bloke presiding there today, I forgot.

  4.      Sorry, I can’t help. I had to shovel snow yesterday, and probably will again before the week is out. Historically, we have to get through February or March before the snow in the mountains is really done. I tend to love the snow through Christmas, and then I want to go straight to Easter.

  5. No snow, no lawnmowers, and any local birds, pretty quiet, north of Seattle. However, last week at church, I was surprised to hear birdsong on Capitol Hill in Seattle. But then again, The Hill is crawling with ‘mos, and I suspect that it had something to do with their agenda.

  6. then again, The Hill is crawling with ‘mos, and I suspect that it had something to do with their agenda

    I doubt it. Gay birds tend to appear later and stay out partying till much later than straight birds. Unless, of course, they are all sensible gay old birds like you, KJ.

  7. We’ve had some early mower action due to the crazy weather here. One week it will be 42F for a high and 15F for a low, give or take. The next the highs will be in the 70F range with lows in the 35F neighborhood. Daffodils are up but are bound to get frozen along with the oriental magnolias before true spring actually comes along. It happens every year. Actually, we don’t really get true spring; we usually go straight to blazing hot. It is just life in Alabama.

  8. Perhaps she’s just concerned for your health, love (And/or, doesn’t want her bairns fumigated!)


    Yet this weekend Mrs Blackbird…

    Heh: I read that and—having just listed to “Platform Two”—mentally sang “Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds, All in a Row”. 😉

  9. Traditionally the day for choosing mates was Valetnines Day, according to Chaucer anyway. Even here on the east coast the birds are starting their early territory-staking songs(slightly different to their mating songs) It’s the light that does it.
    They are not daft and won’t be doing anything much about it just yet!

  10. Perhaps she’s just concerned for your health, love

    When, I wrote the above posted I actually thought to myself – “It’s only a matter of time before some boring individual says something predictable about smoking.”

    And I think it’s really cute that all the other boring individuals stood back and let their leader have the honour.

  11. “Unless, of course, they are all sensible gay old birds like you, KJ.”

    And precisely the ones who have made property values on The Hill soar. The Baby, party-gays are apartment dwellers — Not that there’s anything wrong with that. When they get ready to buy, they move their missions and evangelize in West and North Seattle. Next year — Spokane!

  12. Typical bloody Northern Hemisphere discrimination. Mrs, Caliban buys me a splendid new whipper-snipper and before I can come here and boast of my wonderfully precise edging you go and exclude those of us not cursed with a climate straight out of “Nanook of the North”.

    The bird is probably just squawking at you out of solidarity with her Antipodean relatives.

  13. MP, I actually asked an ornithologist friend of mine, one who has written a couple books on the subject, and she said:

    “…the bizarre winters are indeed skewing birds’ annual cycles, and some birds are losing their first broods to still wintry weather. But no matter how much Mrs. Blackbird tries to communicate with your friend, she is not going to listen to any lectures, and a blackbird rolling its eyes at a human’s breeding advice is a sad sight indeed. If the inevitable wintry weather returns, she won’t brook any consoling words, either–she’ll be like the Old Testament Rachel, weeping for her children because they are no more, but she’ll quickly get back on task and try again.”

    So there you have it.


  14. It’s like I’ve always said, Sheila, “Birds – you can’t live with them, you can’t live without them.” One thing’s for certain, you can’t reason with them, they’re a different species. It’s like they’re from Venus or something. No matter how much you talk sense to them they’ll still just go off and do what they were going to do in the first place.