Welcome and thankyou for visiting My Garden Birds. I would like to introduce you to some of the feathered friends that visit my small, English garden. They bring endless pleasure and sometimes a touch of humour too. Hope you enjoy.
Jack Frost had painted the landscape, transforming the appearance of all that was exposed to the touch of his ice laden brush. Overnight, water had turned to ice, trees and shrubs sparkled white, while frozen spiders webs shimmered now in the first rays of sunlight.
After the rich pickings of Autumn the birds now faced the hard cold days of winter. Those nuts and berries plus the many and varied species of invertebrates once easily accessed close to the surface of the ground, would now be in short supply.
The birds that absented themselves from the gardens in late summer when their young had fledged would now return. These would be joined by winter migrants escaping the much harsher weather of their own countries. As we observe those species in the garden that we regard as typically English and think of as year round residents, we may actually be looking at some of these winter visitors. Many Robins, Starlings and Thrushes are migrants in search of food.
Although I have not given much time to sitting and watching the birds lately, I have noticed that there is currently a great deal of bird activity in the garden. The regular Woodpigeons Collared Doves, Starlings and House Sparrows are constant visitors throughout the day and I am sure their numbers have increased. In addition I am also noticing Robins, Wren, Dunnock, Blue Tits, Great Tits and for the first time in thirty years of living here, Coal Tits.
Over the past two weeks we have caught glimpses of these delightful little Coal Tits almost every day. As with other members of the tit family they seem to dart out of nowhere onto the feeder, select their favourite seed then carry it quickly away into a nearby tree, returning soon after to repeat this routine.
I must try to find some time to sit and watch the activity of these wonderful visitors to my small piece of the world and hopefully capture some more photographs of My garden birds.
Three days ago, Friday to be precise, we had a pair of Coal Tits visit the garden. This is the first occasion that we have observed this species here at home. They seemed to be quite relaxed feeding on seeds in the vertical hanging feeder, making frequent visits and flying to and fro between the neighbouring trees. I was unable to take any pictures of them, they refusing to stay still once I had my camera.
The Robin or Robins along with a Wren or indeed Wrens, are now frequent visitors although it is usually fleeting glimpses of these that I manage to catch while looking out of the kitchen window.
This piece continues from yesterdays post where we saw the Blackbird tucking into some meal worms in the garden. During that time he was not alone. Flitting about and watching with interest were a Robin who has become a frequent visitor again and also a Little Wren. A group of House Sparrows were constantly flying in and out but the relative peace was about to be shattered.
The Blackbird continued:
After a short while, the Blackbird who had been chomping away at the Mealworms became aware that he would soon be far from alone. He decided to make his escape.
The young starlings who have been growing up fast were soon to descend, homing in on the food. I do not know how they become aware that the food is there. Have they got a superb sense of smell or do they watch for the activity of the other birds, in this case seeing the Blackbird then deciding to investigate.
Having said that though, the Blackbird always knows when the Mealworms are put out, appearing shortly after on every occasion.
These are the young Starlings that have grown up here this year, now appearing very speckled with their first winter plumage.
They do not yet have the beautiful blue/green sheen of the adult birds but are still a striking bird when you take the time to observe them. They are of course the bully boys of the garden, intimidating other species of birds while fighting and squabbling constantly between themselves.
The Meal worms are all gone and the starlings are now working their way through a selection of suet pellets.
Fed up of waiting on the sidelines and no doubt thinking that if he did not make a move soon all the food would be gone, onto the scene appears a male House Sparrow.
As some of the Starlings begin to loose interest in feeding, one flies away and the others start to play. One practices circus tricks by balancing along this thin stick, calling out to get the attention of his friends.
The brave little Sparrow spies his chance, lining up one of the few remaining suet pellets, then dives in and makes a grab for it.
The Starlings show their displeasure and make a move towards the interloper but the cheeky little fellow manages to make good his escape.
Neither the Robin nor the Little wren got a look in and soon departed.
After writing the post titled Blackbird likes Holly berries, it seems that my Garden Blackbird has begun to wander more into the garden and is certainly eating more than just those berries. Perhaps he takes them as desert, a nice bit of fruit, part of the 5 a day we are all told we should eat.
"I've had enough of those Holly Berries" the handsome male Blackbird thought to himself.
"The lovely humans who live here have been putting Mealworms out in the garden. I adore Mealworms, so lovely, juicy and nutritious."
Yes I know, that is a picture of a Wood pigeon, yet again. But they are always around and this one was having such a nice rest. I could not resist taking a picture as it posed so nicely.
I have started to gather some pictures of Woodpigeons in an attempt to see if it is possible to identify individual birds by differences in their markings.
As I began to photograph this bird that happens to be one of a pair I am able to recognise when they are together, up popped a blackbird onto the fence at the rear.
A pair of Sparrows were busy feeding on the fat balls.
The Blackbird however made it's way to the Holly bush.
The Blackbirds at the moment show no interest in any of the food we have been putting out. They much prefer eating grubs and worms from the garden, a particular favourite are the berries from off the Holly Bush.
This is one of my feathered friends I saw this morning, but he is a rather greedy Woodpigeon.
The mixed bird feed is suitable for a variety of birds, containing all of the popular, favourite seeds.
This mesh tray fixed to the upright metal pole is good during this very wet weather (we seem to have had endless rain here recently) because any rain easily passes through, therefore the food does not get waterlogged.
He seems to be having a check around, making sure he is on his own and will not be disturbed.
Now he tucks in and begins to eat.
until all the food that was on the tray has been consumed.
This picture was taken around 30 minutes after those appearing above.
But there is more food in the upright feeder. This is reserved for the smaller birds who can manage to perch on the
openings and pop their little beaks inside.
It seems as though I have placed it too close to the tray.
Last night as the light was first starting to fade, the Woodpigeon stood on the edge of the garage roof, looking towards me. I was likewise stood in front of the kitchen sink looking through the window towards the Pigeon. It showed no inclination to fly away but rather seemed to make motions towards the bird feeder in an attempt I am sure to make me realise that the mesh plate used to hold the grain was in fact empty.
I would not normally put out any food at this time of day but I simply could not refuse. This "Woodie" with ruffled, plumped up feathers to keep warm did not appear to have a full and bulging crop so I took the bag of seed out of the pantry and place two good measures onto the tray.
The expectant bird did not fly off as I went outside but merely retreated from the edge of the roof, then as I returned into the house flew down to begin consuming the food with great appetite. It paused briefly while feeding to look up to see me once more staring from the kitchen window. I am sure I felt this grateful bird say Thankyou.
I hoped you liked that previous post where I showed you a few of the birds I encountered during my holiday in Australia. But what of the birds back in my own British Garden?
Well I returned to find that Autumn was well under way with most of the leaves having fallen from the trees. The ground is muddy and strewn with leaf debris and that unmistakable damp autumnal feeling is in the air. And the birds are coming back.
Some blackbirds, missing since the middle of summer have returned. On a number of occasions now I have spied a male happily eating berries from Ron's Holly bush. The House Sparrows and Starlings are still here in relatively good numbers, fighting and squabbling in the trees and on the feeders and the resident Wood Pigeons and Collared Doves are around as always.
I must admit that I have not really spent much time since my return looking out for the birds and have not devoted any time at all to sitting and observing them. I have been pleased however to notice that Blue Tits and Great Tits have been coming into the garden. This morning I stood in front of the kitchen window looking out onto the garden and in a short space of time managed to see all of those birds mentioned above. my thoughts then turned to the Robin.
The Robin is another British Garden bird resident for most of the year which then seems to disappear during the summer months. This year we witnessed young robins and dearly hope that at least some of them have survived. Then as if on cue, he (or indeed she, for the sexes are identical) appeared. Hopping around the garden in that unmistakable way of the robin, pecking here and there, searching for grubs and insects in what is left of the lawn then bobbing into the shelter of the Bamboo plant.
The weather may be cold, damp, often wet and miserable, but the autumn is a great time of year for observing our British garden Birds.
As some of my regular visitors may know, I have spent the last month in Western Australia. I thought before I returned to blogging about my garden birds I would show you a few of the birds I saw while I was there.
The Galah is easily identified by its rose-pink head, neck and underparts, a paler pink crown, and a grey back, wings and undertail. Galahs are quite common in the areas surrounding Perth and are readily seen though they do spend much of the day sheltering from the heat. As with most of these Parrots they are very noisy, especially when they congregate in flocks to roost together at night.
The Corella is easily identified by the fleshy blue eye-ring and pale rose-pink patch between the eye and bill. When in flight a pale yellow colour can be seen on the underwing and under the tail. These Corella's were in the park at Joondalup where they compete with many other species for the food supplied by the numerous visitors. They are accustomed to people and will often feed from your hand. The bird in the top picture is actually standing on my left hand while I took the picture with my right.
Australian Ring-Necked Parrot
The Australian Ring-necked Parrot, often called the 28, is a spectacular bird of many bright colours at least to those of us who are not used to seeing such birds every day. These too are relatively tame in the parks and will eat out of the hands of the people who feed them.
This Kookaburra spied on us from the fork of a tree while we had a picnic in Kings Park. It appeared to be a youngster but from the distance I could not get a good enough view to determine if it was a Laughing Kookaburra or a Blue Winged Kookaburra. We saw many more Kookaburra's during our stay and in a various locations.
What determines a birds activities, where it goes, what it does, Do Birds Think?
I sometimes wonder as I look at my garden birds, do they have a conscious mind, are they capable of thought processes like we humans, or are they merely living automatons following a set of inbuilt complex instructions.
When they awake each morning do they think "Ooh what a lovely morning, nice to see the sun again, what shall I do today?" or "What a lousy night, those bloody Starlings kept me awake all-night again with their incessant chatter, I am going to move out and find somewhere else to roost."
We know that they appear to have definite feeding circles or routes that they take each day, but they are able to adapt these in order to find new places where food is plentiful (such as our bird tables) and abandon those places that are no longer productive. Are they programmed to do this, do they learn this by example from adult birds, or do they think about it logically.
I often see the squabbles of the Starlings, Sparrows, or Tits as they feed in groups, the biggest, bravest or most assertive amongst them ensuring they have first pickings before they may need to take flight if threatened. This of course is all part of natures programme, the survival of the fittest, but is it all automatic response or are actual thought processes at work and are individual personalities involved.
I watched one of the regular Wood Pigeons sitting on the edge of the garage roof by the Pear tree, seeming to relax in the warmth of the September sun. It looked to be enjoying the peace, bathing in the suns rays as we ourselves would do.
So, Do Birds Think? I guess I'll never know, unless I die and come back as a bird.
A few days ago this young WoodPigeon visited our garden, making good use of the feeder tray that still held some grains of seed. I managed to capture a few Young Wood Pigeon Pictures before he flew away.
This is the second youngster of this species that we have seen in the garden recently. How many actually survive to this age I do not know though I am sure many perish before attaining this age. One pair of Wood Pigeons at least, nest each year in the tall conifer behind our garden but I think the nests are usually predated by cats, magpies and maybe even the squirrels. We rarely see young that survive to fledging.
Note that the young birds do not yet have the white markings that is so noticeable on the adult birds, that will come with the next moult.
This last picture is an earlier youngster making a brief appearance on it's own, but was also seen several times with it's parents.
Here we are, half way through September ( the time seems to fly much faster than any bird, where has this year gone) and My Garden Birds are starting The Return as I knew they would.
From late July and throughout August we have very little bird activity in the garden apart from the regular Woodpigeons and Doves. The Blackbirds and Robins are absent for a much longer period than this, seeming to disappear when the young have grown strong and independent.
Now more and more birds are beginning to show again, especially in the early morning and evening. The last few days have been blessed with some good weather offering very pleasant evenings when the Starlings and House Sparrows have been busy in the garden. They seem to flit around playfully before lining the branches of the nearby conifer tree where they now roost.
Early mornings are the time when we are seeing once again the Blue Tits and the Great Tits, delighting us with their acrobatic skills as they hang upside down on the bird feeders, hopping around, and taking turns to peck out seeds and nuts. I would most likely have witnessed much more activity if I had spent more time actually watching the garden but have not had much time to do so lately. Obviously you can not observe the comings and goings of the birds if you do not take the time to look.
I will soon be off to Australia for a few weeks but before I go, I look forward to seeing and enjoying more of My Garden Birds as they make the return to my little plot on the landscape.
Columba Palumbas to give the true Latin name, identifies the bird referred to variously as the Wood Pigeon, Woodpigeon and occasionally as the Ring Dove.
I had always written this birds name as Woodpigeon, but my spell checker tells me I am wrong to do so. It says I should write it as two words, namely Wood and Pigeon. I looked it up on Wikipedia, the online dictionary, and it too infers that I am incorrect. I do however have some very learned authors on my side as all of my English written bird books, including those published by the RSPB, call the bird Woodpigeon.
Further research showed that a higher number of people enter wood pigeon on Google search, than enter Woodpigeon. I wonder what the birds themselves feel about this inconsistency in their naming.
"Well they always just call me Woody"
"I don't mind being called Wood Pigeon, that's all right by me."
"WOODPIGEON, that is what we are called, always have been, always will be. No question about it, Damn nonsense if you ask me."
"I could not care less. I just wish they had made this bird table bigger."
"I hope someone decides what we are going to be called before I grow up."
And of course I did mention at the beginning that these birds are also sometimes called Ring Doves. I have not actually seen any reference to this name in bird books but I have been aware of this name.
The term Ring Dove derives from the white band clearly displayed around the neck of the adult birds.