The master of restraint and forward planning when it comes to finding food is the mistle thrush.
This is the UK’s largest thrush and in early autumn birds gather in large flocks to feed together.
But as soon as holly berries appear, they will split off on their own or into pairs and get defensive. Each bird or pair will find itself a holly tree or bush teeming with berries and will set up a territory.
The berries on that tree won’t be eaten, but will be guarded with such care that no other birds can take them either. Mistle thrushes are so good at protecting their trees, just in case, that by spring many will still have their full crop of berries untouched, long after any unprotected holly has had its fruit stripped.
So, if you see a holly tree that’s still full of berries at Christmas, you’ll probably find there’s a mistle thrush nearby keeping out a watchful eye for thieves.
It’s not a case of sharing the berries is it? It’s ‘what’s mine is mine. Keep away’