Eye On Nature

 

Over the past five years we have been feeding the wild birds in our garden from October to the end of March. We have had house and hedge sparrows, a robin, a meadow pipit, a wren, and several tits. In November we noticed the house sparrows behaving strangely, hiding in corners or standing aimlessly about. Then a day or two later, there were no small birds, only crows and starlings. Could they be poisoned or suffering from a virus?

Elizabeth Sheridan, Naas, Co Kildare

Most of these are seed-eating birds. If there is winter cereal growing near you, they could have fed on seed treated with chemicals, which would be sown in November. Or someone may have sprayed weedkiller on a patch of weeds which had gone to seed.

We have primroses in full bloom in the garden for the past month. I have never seen this happen in December before. What has caused this wonderful surprise?

Tom Murray, Raheny, Dublin, 5 For the past decade Eye on Nature has been getting reports of primroses blooming through the winter. We have them in bloom too in our garden, and have had them, and other primulas, during the winter every year for at least a decade. It may be one of the signs of global warming.

Edited by Michael Viney, who welcomes observations sent to him at Thallabawn, Carrowniskey PO, Westport, Co Mayo. email: viney@anu.ie