(now and again)

Tokyo DIY Gardening Hands-on gardening for a crowded city

Joseph Tame’s Gardening: The Birds
Joseph Tame's Bird Table
Pigeons Eating by Joseph Tame
Bird in Sakura by Joseph Tame
Bird in Sakura by Joseph Tame

[Guest Post from Joseph Tame, Tokyo-based freelance marketing manager, new media producer, entrepreneur, performer and marathoner.]

The Birds

One of the things I love most about living right next to a park is the birdsong. Despite living but a few kilometres from Shibuya, in the mornings, with nothing but the sound of birds and the wind in the trees, you can imagine that you’re far from the city, somewhere out in the English countryside.

In an attempt to get closer to nature, I decided to start feeding the birds. The only problem was, we didn’t really have any suitable place for a feeder – so I decided to make my own window ledge on the south side of the house to put one on. There was a low guard rail attached to the window frame to stop people falling out, and I found that a cheap wooden slatted ‘mat’ (sold for use in bathrooms), cut in half, could be placed so as to rest on the guard rail and the aluminium surround of the window. This created a platform about 12cm in width, plenty for a couple of plastic saucers commandeered from the balcony.

It took a few days for the sparrows to find the feeder. It started with just one or two, but within a couple of weeks we had a gang of up to 13 sparrows feeding and fighting over the seed! (my wife wasn’t too pleased as the tweeting started at about 5am, waking us up!) With my desk just the other side of the mosquito-screen, it was fantastic to be able to work with these guys playing so close by.

The other regulars have been a pair of pigeons. They must live pretty close by as we hear them call each morning. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know them. I’ve found that they like classical music, and are perfectly happy to listen to the things I have to say to them (although they only respond by looking at me with confused faces, before continuing to eat).

I’ve tried a couple of experiments on the bird table: I thought it wold be pretty cool to have the birds tweet their own messages via Twitter, and so put a low-slung Apple keyboard in a plastic bag hooked up to a computer, underneath the bird feeder. Unfortunately the birds were too light to press the keys – I remain on the lookout for a keyboard that responds to the lightest of touches.

I’ve also hooked up a webcam pointing at the bird table. Unfortunately the sparrows have been incredibly camera shy, and so until I find a less intrusive camera that project’s on hold.

[Check out Joseph's fantastic pinepple plant here and a little more gardening background here.]

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