The CJ Wildlife catalogue arrived in the post today. I never knew that birds had so much food choice...
Three types of sunflower hearts, 17 sorts of seed mixes (including Vitality Mix and Robin Blend), two types of peanuts, pinhead oats, rolled oats, sultanas, sprinkle food, Oystershell grit - I could go on - oh, alright then - Nutrobal Dietary supplement, sprinkle support, Niger seed, suet, mealworms, bran, Buffalo worms, Waxworms, peanut butter (with or without insects), suet (in seven varieties), fat balls (in various shapes and food combinations), peanut cake tubes (original, coconut, hi-protein, with insects, gourmet robin, very berry) - I'm sure you get the picture. It strikes me that there are children in the UK who will not eat so healthily as a bird being fed by a customer of CJ Wildlife, and that is no joke.
I was half expecting Jamie, or Delia, or Heston to appear on a spread in the catalogue unveiling a celebrity bird recipe that we can all buy at inflated prices to tempt our feathered love-ones with when they are fatigued with natural foods such as berries, snails and insects.
What next, birds having to make reservations at bird tables as to be able to try Nigella's 'Caterpillar Risotto in a rose-hip jus'? Or ceramic finger bowls with lemon-water so that our Greenfinch's can wash their bills after dining? Whatever happened to lobbing out stale bread on the lawn or hanging bog standard peanuts in a red plastic string bag from a tree? I tell you what happened to all of that, some bloke from CJ Wildlife designed 1,001 different types of apparatus to put the food into - sod using a tree or a lawn. You can buy ornate metal lamp posts to attach the 305 different food containers that themselves resemble something from an Ann Summers catalogue, or strange wooden feeding trays that look as if they have been hand-carved by a team of Hans Christian Anderson inspired elves.
This is big business. Somebody once told me that the money to be had in birding isn't from running tours, or selling optics, or writing books - it's from coming up with 57 varieties of peanut cake tube.