Sunday, 13 March 2016

this morning's garden bird activity

We always feed our garden birds throughout the winter. Activity has been quieter though tying in with the weather.
But livening up are our resident House sparrows. They live in the guttering of our house and our adjoining neighbour's,  and seem to be the only well established group in the neighbourhood. 
Male House Sparrow

Female House Sparrow

They are cheeky little monkeys! They line up every morning in what appears to be rank order between the males, wait for the food to be put out and drop down in turn to feed. The males cause quite a stir at times - cheeping really loudly and squabbling.
The females also join in the lining up.
We have a small, shallow bowl with water in where they regularly drink and bathe. It's quite near our french patio doors and I waited ages this morning with my camera, sitting cross legged, inside, waiting for a perfect shot of them drinking or bathing. It didn't happen! It's as if they knew and didn't want to have a photo taken! 
So this week we have counted 5 males and 4 females. The extra cheekiness from them is when they are lining up in the bush deciding to feed or not, we start counting them (this is all happening outside our kitchen window by the way). As we count along they all move, fly up to the guttering, hide in the bushes. And it all goes pear shaped! They are funny little characters!
This last week or so they have been picking and pulling at the bush they like to hide in, for nesting material. See the photo of the female above. They were unsuccessful in raising young last year whereas in previous years there has been at least 2 broods of young and that fledged. Really hope they do well this year. Another reason to watch this space - I will post updates.
I used my 400mm camera lens for these shots. When viewing close up photos of the birds you really notice the detail. In this one I was drawn to the length of her feet and claws. Never ever noticed before. Are they too long ? Is it normal ? 
In terms of identifying these if you are a complete beginner and keen to learn, is that the Hose Sparrows often live around houses and town buildings, they have grey on the top of their heads, in the centre. Males have a black bib, under the bill, and as in most species of birds the females are more drab in colour, so the female House Sparrows are generally brown with the grey head and have a pale eyestripe.
After food was put out this morning (mealworms, suet pellets, mixed seed) the bigger guys arrived - Starlings (about 4 on and around the table), 2 Jackdaws and 1 more tiny - a Blue Tit.
The Blue Tit - easy to recognise with blue cap, blue wings, white face with blue/black collar and eyestripe, yellow breast and tummy and is generally small.

Starling - another character of a bird. Larger than the Sparrows, dark brown with white flecked spots, yellow/pale bill. Pink legs. If you can see one with the sunlight shining on the bird there is a sheen of blue/green/purple on it's back and wings.

Jackdaws. Much larger. Often called 'Crows' or 'Blackbirds'. Even though just plain black, they have a beautiful blue eye colour. The head is silvery/grey-ish. The bottom photo is our local regular (2 different birds photographed her this morning, presumably a pair). We have aptly named this one 'Whitey'  because of it's white markings probably due to part albinism. The top Jackdaw photo, it being a close up, again you notice more detail - I never realised they had some gentle feathering going halfway along the bill from the head.

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