The park maintenance team of Tsarskoe Selo has placed sixty winter bird feeders in the Catherine, Alexander and Babolovo Parks.
‘In the 1900s the parks of Tsarskoye Selo saw massive deaths of old trees,’ says Olga Filippova, our park curator. ‘A special committee, set up of the Imperial Botanic Garden’s specialists on the orders of Emperor Nicholas II in 1912, investigated possible causes and recommended, among other things, feeding birds in winter so they reside in the parks and protect the trees from harmful insects. Winter bird feeders became a tradition we keep today. For this purpose, the Museum buys over 400 kilograms of sunflower seeds every year. Our park maintenance workers, as well as our other employees and our visitors, see to that the bird feeders are always full.’
The Old Garden of the Catherine Park near the palace again boasts an antique-reproduction bird feeder (see pictures above, click to enlarge), first placed there in November 2012. The two-tier bird café, with twelve openings and a decorative porch, replicates a popular design often seen in gardens of Great Britain, France and Russia in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Fifty nine other bird feeders of simple design are set all around the three parks. This amount of detached bird feeders on poles, which do not harm tree branches, is enough to take care of practically all the wild birds wintering at Tsarskoye Selo. Those include great, blue, marsh and crested tits, nuthatches, treecreepers, bullfinches, Bohemian waxwings, redpolls, spotted woodpeckers and others. Besides feeding on what the bird feeders provide, they carefully inspect the branches and trunks of trees nearby and destroy overwintering pest species.
‘Bird feeders are not our only way of bird care-taking,’ adds Olga Filippova. ‘We also preserve their natural nesting areas, install nest boxes, and plant berry trees and shrubs like hawthorn, rowan and wild rose.’