One of my New Year’s Resolutions has morphed into a New Year’s Revelation – that feeding the birds is an excellent aid to losing weight.
No sooner do I start chucking stale bread crumbs outside the back door at breakfast time than a few blackbirds, thrushes and robins arrive to peck them up. They hop cheerfully about the patio, jerking their heads this way and that, while I admire their beautiful, subtle markings. Give me the gorgeous tawny speckles of a song thrush any day over a peacock’s gaudy markings – though one of those occasionally visits the village too.
Intelligence of my new cafe travels fast on the avian grapevine. Gratified by the birds’ speedy response, I decide to bump up their rations. Here is the excuse I need to cut the crusts off my morning toast. I’ve been averse to crusts since childhood, when I was implored to eat them to avoid waste. (The nice man next door who gave me tiny pencils filched from the betting shop, also told me to eat my eggshells or my hair wouldn’t curl. I had natural ringlets like Shirley Temple’s.)
The toast crusts quickly disappear, once soaked in water, as per the RSPB‘s advice to stop them swelling up post-meal in the bird’s tiny tummies. On consulting the bird feeding book (a Christmas present to myself to inform my new hobby), I discover that blackbirds and thrushes like chopped apples. Out go the yellowing contents of the fruit basket. Ends of cake and the remains of a packet of mini doughnuts are added over the next few days. Far better to boost the birds’ calorific intake than mine.
Cooking bacon for breakfast at the weekend, I instruct the family to cut every last sliver of fat from each rasher. This source of high energy helps birds survive cold weather. In my cosy hide behind the forest of pot plants on the utility room windowsill, I am rewarded by close-up views of nut-brown speckled songthrushes tucking into a fatty brunch.
By lunchtime, the patio is bare, so I scout around for a top-up and alight on the Christmas cake. Plenty of plump dried fruit in there to boost a chilly bird’s body temperature.
When my daughter starts back to school, my attitude to her lunchbox is transformed. I used to dread opening it on her return home to find half of it untouched, destined only for the compost bin. (She eats like a bird herself – a very chatty parrot, too busy talking to her friends to make time to finish her lunch.) Now I make a beeline for her lunchbox every day after school, viewing it as a welcome source of afternoon tea for my feathered friends.
No meal is unaffected by my new garden diners. Having been brought up to clear my plate, I’m now keen to leave a bit of rice here, a handful of of pasta there, to make sure there’s something hearty on the patio, ready for when the birds descend at dawn. And as I seek out high energy snacks for the birds, I’m gladly and painlessly pruning my own consumption of carbs and fat.
So there we have it. Janet’s Theory strikes again: if you want to get something done, do something else. Feed the birds and you’ll lose weight. And you don’t even have to pay tuppence a bag.