Fowl Actions in England

You wouldn't have thought George was a nuisance. He lives in Earswick, near England's northern cathedral city of York, with Neville and Maggie Earnshaw.

George is a bit of a show off, likes to strut about. Cock a doodle do and all that. But he's no trouble.

Then the environmental health squad arrived - white coats, clip boards and cruel ideas. He's too noisy. Raise his perch, they ordered. So George got a concussion trying to reach it every night.

Paint it black inside, they demanded. And now George is even more disorientated than the guys in Guantanamo.

Finally they forced the hapless fowl to put a sock over his head. George doesn't crow much anymore.

In the pretty English town of Worcester they've just exhumed Henry. A cheerful character who used to walk with a limp and was blind in one eye. Everyone knew him. He didn't seem to have an enemy in the world.

Henry lived with the Mayor of Worcester. Don't get me wrong. It wasn't that kind of relationship. The Mayor is totally straight and anyway Henry is, or was, a highly respectable duck.

A dead duck now. With his head chopped off. And buried in a shallow grave. The police never bothered to get to the bottom of it.

We English used to be proud animal lovers. We'd get all dewy eyed about anything with fur and feathers. We didn't go around silencing cockerels and decapitating pet ducks. But these aren't isolated cases.

Two hundred miles south in the Hampshire village of Oakley, Peter Campbell was feeding his 42 racing pigeons when the first shots rang out. Soon there were only 39.

Bang. Oops. 38.

And the firing was coming from several determined neighbours. One of whom erected a larger than life plastic owl to scare off survivors. Right now many of those creatures are grounded for their own safety.

Someone's got it in for anything with a beak. Maybe it's fear of this deadly Asian bird flu that's supposed to be heading our way, but England's feathered friends have become downright dangerous to know.

Mr. and Mrs. Cope from Rochdale up in the north would agree. They've just been jailed for the hideous crime of feeding wild birds. Because even the law takes a dim view of giving titbits to blue tits.

The Copes were fined, refused to pay, and are now caged up themselves.

Oh well, must fly!
by Ed Boyle