SIR: I sympathise very much with your correspondent Anna Dreaper over her concern for the loss of her garden birds (Chronicle, Letters, August 20).

I, too, am worrying about my blackbird family (I have successfully reared two broods with copious supplies of raisins and wild bird seed!) who seem to have completely disappeared from the bird table in the last two weeks, as have the sparrows.

Like Anna, I question the wisdom behind the decision to help these peregrine falcons establish a home in Winchester. It seems to me that to deliver up our garden birds, like sacrificial lambs, to these screeching bullies is nothing to be proud of at all.

Rosemary Poole,

St James Villas,


SIR: I can assure Anna Dreaper (Chronicle, Letters, August 20) that the cathedral peregrines are not responsible for any reduction in the numbers of small birds in her garden. A bird that can kill a wood pigeon does not bother with such small prey unless there is nothing else. If the culprit is a predator, it is likely to be a domestic cat. These kill far more garden birds than any other animal.

I see all the birds she lists in my Winchester garden, plus several others. However, at the moment numbers are down. Young birds have fledged, so they and their parents are free to roam; there is plenty of food in the fields and hedges; and adult birds are now moulting, so they prefer to hide away. I know they will be back when winter comes.

If Anna Dreaper is referring to a long-term decline, there are several reasons for that. Sparrow numbers have plummeted due to changes in farming methods. Climate change means that the hatching of tiny caterpillars and the hatching of small birds’ eggs have gone out of sync, making it harder for the birds to feed their young. Modern houses and modern farms do not provide nesting places. When there is a general decline in a species, natural predators are never the reason.

Charlotte Farmer,

Abbotts Ann Road,