Letter: Our sterile gardens

Sir: Your correspondent on the disappearance of songbirds (letter, 16 December) has isolated the wrong predator, but identified one area offering great potential for sustaining our wild bird population. It is effectively a national park in our own back gardens.

In our desire to create the ideal home and garden, we have succeeded only in creating a barren and sterile environment. In urban and rural areas alike, we renovate and destroy. We remove food sources, safe shelter and potential nest sites. We use chemicals that kill.

A house I knew as a child had a large garden which provided food and cover enough for high-density populations of birds and mammals, both common and not so common. Even a hare reared her leverets there. But the place has been developed, the garden built upon, the outhouses converted. The birds and animals have gone.

By contrast, close by, and therefore subject to the same environmental factors (including predation), there is an unconverted farm. It has rambling buildings, barns and a large manure heap. It offers a constant source of food and shelter and remains a paradise for birds, predator and prey alike.

I am not advocating dilapidation of our gardens and houses, simply that we learn to remedy what we have destroyed. The nut-feeder and nest-box are no longer sufficient. We cannot remain complacent or shift the blame elsewhere. Predator and prey alike have an equal place and demand our attention and care.

MARILYN DAVIES

Gargrave, North Yorkshire

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