Cheeky bird serves self at Holt shop

A plucky blackbird that sings for its supper, before feasting on cups full of raisins and dried mealworms is proving a hit with customers at Holt nature shop.

The female bird first appeared around four weeks ago, picking its way through the front of the Bird Ventures shop in Chapel Yard before sitting on the floor in front of the counter.

Paul Laurie, who runs the shop with partner Jules May explained: "The male had previously been in, he would start singing, but as soon as we stood up, he would go back outside."

However the female bird proved to be more adventurous and now visits every 20 minutes or so throughout the day, stuffing down mealworms and raisins soaked in water, before filling her beak with food to take back to her young.

"She even recognises Jules's car and tries to land on it when she arrives in the mornings," Paul said. "And, as soon as we open up, she follows right in behind us."

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The bird, which gets through 200g of mealworms a week, also knows when it is closing time, and will hop inside for a final feed when it sees Jules locking up.

Bird expert Paul reckons the blackbirds, whose nest is in nearby bushes, are now raising their third brood of young this year.

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"We think there are four chicks," he said. "Blackbirds sit on their eggs for around 17 days, then feed the young for three weeks, by which time they are completely independent."

Customers at the shop, which sells wildlife products and nature study equipment, have been amazed to see a blackbird sitting on the counter.

"They can't believe their eyes," Paul said. "but we do have to warn them, as, although she hops her way in, when she leaves, she flies straight out."

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