Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sparrow trapping

I have been catching sparrows.

The trap

To such lawyers of my acquaintance desirous of knowing why I wish to catch sparrows, they swarm of a morning and eat all the wheat flung about the lawn for the chickens. - The sparrows, not the lawyers. -  Each morning the hens, if not fed, make a raucous din outside the bedroom window. Ergo half-a-marmalade-pot of wheat is thrown on the lawn before bedtime. We tried dog food which they prefer, but the hedgehog came and ate it overnight and the hens were raucous again in the morning. You are supposed to slay hedgehogs here cos they eat eggs and as New Zealand once had no mammals but bats, many birds evolved to become ground-nesters, and subject to hedgehog egg predation, they are fast becoming extinct. But we can't bring ourselves to kill a hedgehog and anyway there are no kiwis in the garden.

The trigger mechanism. The plywood stick, w. fishing line, is flicked sideways to release

To catch sparrows all that is needed is a wire mesh cage, a support structure to hold it off the ground, a length of fishing line going through the Xpelair hole in the kitchen window, and a trigger mechanism, it being a deadfall trap operated by hand rather than by automatic trigger. Fifteen sparrows were caught with it this morning in lots of 5, 3, 1, 2, 2 1 and 2. So that's sixteen because I can't count. The idea is to go out among the trapped and panicking sparrows and when they have been thoroughly alarmed and disquieted, to release them all. We tried this last summer, ringing each sparrow caught, and found that we never caught a ringed sparrow, so that means once caught they don't come back.

A bit of kitchen, w. the Ahnfeldt-Mollerups' barbecue in the background, bless 'em for bequeathing it to us.

I could shoot them with an air rifle - the sparrows again, not the lawyers - but as it's the adult sparrow who comes accompanied by a flock of fledglings, I entertain the hope that capture-and-release will assist their discrimination twixt food put out for hens (all of it) and food put out for sparrows (none).

The same bit of kitchen, w. Xpelair hole

Also, it adds excitement to breakfast. Coffee is admittedly a stimulant, but it don't give much of an adrenalin buzz. Even my wife wants to watch.

The retaining fishing-line, w. three slightly perplexed oversized sparrows/hens/lawyers-of-my-acquaintance. (You choose.)



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