The Birds

For years, Summer in the Barbican was plagued by Canada geese. Canada geese abuse anyone who comes near. They make a lot of noise, and they make a terrible mess. All they need is skate boards and they could be local children. But I must say we seem to be mercilessly free of them recently, so perhaps the City has now culled them – the Canada geese.


Ducks are here all the year round. They are mainly Mallards. They have to keep their nests and their eggs away from foxes and other predators, so they often build their nests in residents’ window boxes. When the ducklings are very young they are fed in the nest, but once they get large enough to swim, the parents simply throw them over the edge. If there is water underneath, that’s fine. Ducks are not smart creatures and they often choose window boxes over concrete. If that happens in your window box, please tell the Barbican Estate Office who will send someone to move the nests or the birds. The important thing is to catch the mother first, put her in the lake, then bring down the ducklings who will follow her. If you do it the other way around, the mother will abandon the ducklings.

It seems natural to feed bread to ducks. But the Parks & Gardens people say we shouldn’t, that it just encourages more ducks to come, that it isn’t the right kind of food, and ultimately it silts up the lake.

There is a very elegant heron which can be seen at night standing on one leg (the show off) on any of the bits of pipe or brick above the lake surface. I have seen it being dive-bombed by seagulls, presumably to panic it into standing on both legs.