During the spring of 2001, a blackbird became a regular visitor to our kitchen. After discovering that there was a ready supply of food in the cat's bowls, the blackbird began to treat the kitchen like an extension of the garden, and popped in every now and then if the garden wasn't offering up enough earthworms.

The cat's food bowl was, it seemed, a blackbird version of a drive-thru burger bar. I have heard of birds coming into houses, but the presence of a cat seems to make this less likely. It seems we had a particularly bold and fearless blackbird, who always took advantage of the open kitchen door.

On one occasion I came downstairs to find her only 30cm away from Spike the cat, who was eating his cat food. She appeared to be next in the queue. Whether she was next in the queue for Spike's dinner, or next in the queue as Spike's dinner, it was difficult to tell. He'd definitely noticed that a blackbird was standing only a foot/30cm approx* away from him (*I don't know if Spike thinks in metric or imperial measurement), but didn't seem too intent on a killer swipe - just looked a bit surprised.

I successfully ushered the bird out of the door before Spike remembered that he was supposed to be a vicious killing machine.

I had a visitor later that afternoon. As we were talking at the kitchen table the female blackbird came in again. (My visitor kindly warned me with "There's a blackbird behind you".) We then watched as the bird gathered up as much cat food in its beak as it could, and hopped off again out of the open door.

A bird in the lounge is worth two in the kitchen

One blackbird in your kitchen is one thing, two blackbirds in the house is one of those strange and slightly surreal experiences which my guardianship of my garden and the attached house keeps bringing me.

One morning, early, I found Spike the cat following a male blackbird down the hallway, while a female blackbird panicked in the kitchen, throwing herself against the kitchen window.

I opened the kitchen door as wide as I could, hoping the female blackbird would find her way out. I shouted at Spike as he chased the other blackbird down the hallway, where it was still flying about trying to find an exit, into the front room, and I chased Spike, slipping slightly on the droppings the bird had left on the polished hallway floor.

Falling in to the front room I found Spike at the window having cornered the blackbird which was frantically trying to get out of the window and pooing all down my curtains. I removed Spike to another room, tried to approach the blackbird in a calm manner, and then had no choice but to get hold of it. The window there sticks badly and needs hitting with a hammer to get it to open. I didn't think starting to hit the windowframe with a hammer was a good idea in the circumstances.

I remembered to get hold of the bird so that its wings were kept close to its sides and didn't get damaged. Once in my hands it seemed to go quieter, which was a relief, as I set off with it down the hallway.  I then realised the door to the kitchen - my way out of the house - was shut, as I'd shut it behind me to leave the other bird chance to get out.

I then had the difficult task of turning this rather unergonomic old-style round doorknob with my hands full of blackbird. The blackbird looked resigned and quite comfortable despite being turned in a circular motion with the doorknob.

Somehow we managed to deal with the doorknob, and I dashed speedily across the kitchen to the back door, and liberated the bird.


Luckily the other bird had meanwhile liberated itself. I then liberated Spike from the room I'd shut him in, and then spent a while sponging the worst of the bird poo off the back of the front room curtains.

Blackbirds: 1 | 2 | 3
Female blackbird

Above: Female blackbird in the garden, June 2004.
Top left: Male blackbird