Our garden slopes upwards away from the house. This means that the bird house, which I bought as a Christmas present several years ago for my husband, is directly on a level with the bedroom we use as an office, and can be viewed clearly from the window above my desk. As bird houses go, it looks pretty standard but this is no ordinary bird house; this bird house has a secret. It is fitted with a wireless camera which is linked to a laptop, the idea being that not only could we watch the birds make their home, but one day, we might be able to witness their eggs hatching. If only.
Facing north, the preferred option according to the handbook and various other publications we’ve consulted, close to a food source (fat balls and seed nets hung in the trees), a water bath nearby and adequate protection from predators (protected from behind by a dense covering of honeysuckle), the house, we were certain, was perfectly positioned. After all, it’s all about location. All ready, we waited. And we waited. Years of working at that desk and I’ve yet to view any serious avian activity. A few have been to sample the victuals, quench their thirst or revitalise their feathers with a watery flutter. From time to time, this fine des res would even catch the eye of an interested party, but after brief investigation, none has ever stayed to take up residence.
We researched further; adjusted the aspect of the house by a few degrees, ensured a clear flight path and made sure that it was clean. We don’t have a cat; neither do our neighbours and as for squirrels, I’ve never seen one in our garden..
One morning I watched a pair of small birds with plumage of blue, green and yellow, the winter sun making the feathers almost iridescent. According to Springwatch, blue tits are opportunists who welcome the chance of a ready-made home with no particular effort necessary on their part. It was theirs for the taking. Sadly, they didn’t. Later that day I looked up from my desk and saw that our little visitors had returned. They circled the bird house again and again , surely assessing its suitability and safeness, a place to bring up their family. But that was it. What are we doing wrong?