A right can of worms
I don't know how widespread the Home & Bargain chain of shops is - and they seem not to have a web presence, so I can find no help from that quarter - but, for those who have never heard the name, Home & Bargain are wonderful Aladdin's caves of shops in which one can very often find things at a fraction of the price they would be in the supermarket next door.
I'm sure that Booglaoo Dude, being a great frequenter of various branches of Home & Bargain, will confirm that it is almost always worth popping in on the off-chance. (He also speaks highly of something called, "B&M Bargains": but I have no personal experience of that particular establishment.)
So. I was in the pet supplies area. Sometimes they will have a brief appearance by a superior brand of cat food at an extremely reduced price. (My arms will attest to this, having been stretched almost down to my ankles by the 5 kg of something posh I dragged home on Thursday. This was probably foolish, but experience has taught me that it is imperative to buy such things when you see them. That shelf will almost certainly be bare by the next day.)
The pet supplies area includes things like fat balls and tubes of peanuts trapped behind wire mesh which Bertie would gladly purchase to fatten the local wild bird population up if only I would relent and give him some pocket money.
But today there was Something New.
For an unknown amount of money - sorry, but I was limping past in horror too quickly to notice the price - one can buy a ring-pull can of dried earthworms.
Now, leaving aside -which is by no means easy, I can assure you - my life-long phobia of earthworms, why would anybody want to feed the birds in their garden a dried version of something the birds can pull up out of the ground in that self-same garden for free??
Vermivorous* birds have been cunningly-designed to be absolutely toptastic at dragging protesting worms free from their soil-y habitat. What possible benefit will the average blackbird derive from mankind generously farming the worms on his behalf; killing and drying them; and pouring their wizened, dehydrated remains into a ring-pull can? A can, moreover, which Beaky himself can not open. No matter how early he gets up of a morning.
I am all for feeding the birds. Or, rather, I am all for feeding the birds in scenarios where so doing doesn't lure them within easy reach of Bertie's gaping maw. But - assuming, for the purposes of discussion, the absence of Bertie - I will feed them things which they can't get for themselves. It seems likely to me that one of the reasons garden birds fall so voraciously on bread crumbs is that, try as they might, they simply don't have the equipment to knead bread dough themselves. Bread thus becomes an exotic and delicious foodstuff by virtue of its very unattainability. (Plus, of course, it is entirely possible that bread actually tastes a lot nicer than worms do. Trust me: I am never going to put this theory to the test.)
Offering the birdies a sprinkling of dried worms seems to me to be something akin to offering currants to someone who works in a vineyard. Not only is the offer wholly unnecessary in the first place, given the superabundance of the real thing, but the "treat" offered is decidedly less enticing than its fresh equivalent.
Or is it that earthworms are actually seasonal, and no-one has ever told me?
*Ok, I just made that word up.