Category Archives: Fact Sheet for individual birds

A FRIENDLY ROBIN

Hi

 

I’ve noticed that when I’m gardening and wearing something red that my local robin is far bolder and will ‘dive bomb’ close to my head or stand within 2 feet of where I’m working.

Stella

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What a lovely story.  You’ve got a friend there.  Take care of this little robin!

Trisha

DUNNOCK FACT SHEET

THE DUNNOCK:  Latin Name: Prunella modularis

Dunnock, Hedge Sparrow, Hedge Accentor

This little bird has had three names,  dunnock, hedge sparrow and hedge accentor.

Dunnocks often go unnoticed as they are dull coloured little birds.  They spend a lot of time on the ground or on fences, flying  in a jerky way and usually at low level

Also have a jerky movement when on the ground and are often flicking the wings and tail.

Feeding:  weed seeds, insects,  kitchen scraps.
Dunnocks look for food under hedges, lawns, along the edges of fields, garden feeders – usually ground feeders

The dunnock is mostly a ground feeder – searching for insects among the leaves on the ground

I get a lot of dunnocks in my garden.  They are shy little birds and can be easily missed as they flit about at the ground feeder and then quickly go into the hedgerow

Description:  

  • Brown above,   which is streaked with soft black ,
  • ash grey face and breast. 
  • Dunnocks have a fine bill of an insect eating bird, but they do eat small seeds in winter.

The dunnock is a difficult bird to identify.  It takes a lot of observation.  More details  –
The fine bill is one of the ways of identifying ig.  Sparrows have thick bills
The head ash grey colour which is not streaked.  The grey goes from the head to the breast
The sides of the underparts are streaked
The tail is plain brown

Habitat  Gardens, hedgerows. scrub,  towns, villages, farmland – virtually everywhere

Dunnock looking for food

Dunnock looking for food

Song  tseep – call.  Short and fast.  Has been described as ‘squeeky’

Breeding
The dunnock does not breed in pairs.  They  breed in groups.  The groups could be 3 males and three  females, but two females with two males are  usual

In the breeding season male dunnocks defend ‘their land’against other dunnocks by singing

Eggs:  4 to 5    Colour: Blue
Cuckoos often take over a dunnocks nest.  The cuckoo has a speckled egg and the dunnocks eggs do not have any markings – but the dunnock does not notice this

Incubation: 12 days. 

Often has two broods

Fledging: 12 days

Nest: Built by the female in shrubs and hedges.  Built from twigs an moss and lined with moss and hair

Size:  Length:  14cm.  Wingspan is 20cm

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I still often get sparrows and dunnocks mixed up – but this doesn’t matter.  It is just interesting to try and identify  them sometimes.

Dunnocks like to feed near the shelter of bushes and garden plants – they must feel safe there and to me they seem secretative birds as they hop about undercover.

A lot of the photographs on Bird Table News have been taken by me but this time I could not get any s0 – Photographs by istockphoto

If you have any information or stories about dunnocks please add to this fact sheet.

 

BLACKBIRD FACT SHEET

THE BLACKBIRD  –  Latin Name:  Turdus merula

Blackbird in summer

Feeding – Mostly insect eaters.  Also eat worms, nuts, berries,  birdfood, cheese, kitchen scraps.  Blackbirds also eat newts and shrews.

The blackbird has a very varied diet and this must be one of the reasons it is so successful. 

Blackbirds catch worms on any grassland that is ‘soft’ enough for them to ‘dig’ their beaks into.

Blackbirds eyes are at the side of their heads and a bird’s eye cannot move in its socket – so a blackbird has to cock its head to look for worms in the ground.

Description: 
Male is jet black with an orange beak. 
The female is dark brown with a blackish colour at the tail.  Has dark breast with pale spots.   The female / hen bird has a brown beak
Blackbirds with some white feathers have been seen.  Click the link below to see some of the reasons why blackbirds sometimes have white feathers.Below is a link to some information about white feathered blackbirds

SOME REASONS FOR BLACKBIRDS WITH WHITE FEATHERS

HABITAT – General and very varied.  Woodland, fields, gardens, towns, cities, countryside.

Originally the blackbird was a woodland bird

SONG: tchook, tchook, tchook  –  the alarm call of the blackbird  It also sings a mellow song.

BREEDING – May to July.  Up to three broods can be hatched in one year.

EGGS: 3-6  Bluish green colour andspotted with brown 

INCUBATION: 11-17 days

FLEDGLING: 12- 19 days

NEST:  In bushes, trees, creepers, shrubs.  Uses grass, horsehair, fine roots to build the nest .  It is bound together with mud.  The inside of the nest usually is lined with grass.

Birds nest in a variety of hedges and trees.  Here is one hedge that is good for birds. 

A PROTECTIVE  HEDGE FOR MANY BIRDS

SIZE:  24 – 27 cm ( 9  1/2 to 11 inches)

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If  you have any blackbird facts or stories or information let me know and we can add it to this fact sheet.

Blackbird Facts

 Did you know that to find worms  Blackbirds use

  • sight,
  • sound 
  • feel    

SIGHT

They run and pause along the ground as they cover an area looking for worms.  They then stop to cock their heads and look on the ground for prey.

They cock their heads because their eyes are positioned laterally which gives them excellent peripheral vision.  The blackbird swings its head around to see its prey using one eye to see its food.  

SOUND  / HEARING

Birds have no visible ears, but have ‘audile orifices’ covered with a thin layer of feathers to aid flying.

Blackbirds are unique that both ears are internally ducted to one organ which is between the two ears.  This  lets blackbirds discover which direction sound is coming from and is why blackbirds often tilt their heads.  They tilt their heads to get a better ‘position’ of where the sound is coming from and so where their prey is.

So sometimes when a blackbird pulls a worm from the ground  the blackbird has found the worm by HEARING it.

FEEL

After looking and hearing Blackbirds  often finds a worm’s precise location by probing with its beak .

A blackbirds beak is very sensitive and can sense the tiny movement’ vibrations made by the worm which is under the soil

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Blackbirds feed mostly on the ground and are also skilled at finding worms or insects under leaves. When blackbirds  hop about and toss leaves away they are not searching randomly for food but are using their excellent hearing to find the exact location of a tasty morsal.

So  insects are not found under leaves by chance

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A blackbirds hearing is adapted to hear only noises that are important to them such as other bird  calls, movement of prey they are looking for and movement of predators that are looking for them.

So our common or garden blackbird is a unique bird – as are all our garden birds – but we take them so much for granted

Blackbird in summer

Blackbird in summer

Have you any blackbird facts or other bird facts you’d like to share with us.   Please just let me know if you have.

GREAT TIT FACT SHEET

GREAT TIT (Parus major)

Colourful Great Tit

Colourful Great Tit

Here are some facts about the Great Tit

FEEDING

Forages in hedges and trees for insects, spiders and worms. Also likes –

  • Fruit
  • Peas
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Coconut
  • Fat
  • Suet
  • Cheese

The Great Tit likes woodland habitat.

It has a beak strong enough to crack hazel and beech nuts.

Can crack hazel and beech nuts as well

Can crack hazel and beech nuts with their beak

The Great Tit is a visitor to many bird tables but also likes to feed on the ground.

DESCRIPTION
The Great Tit is the largest of the British tits and is easy to recognise because of its yellow breast and long black central band which runs from its chin to its tail.  It has a black and white head.  It is a really colourful bird.

The tail is blue grey with white outer feathers.

Females have less glossy caps and less black on the breast.

CHARACTER

I always think the Great Tit looks pretty and charming but in reality it can be aggressive to other birds who try and share the bird table or peanut feeder. 

I have seen Great Tits behave aggressively in spring and Summer when they are defending their area.   They open their beaks and spread their wings to try to get the other bird to go away.  This war keeps on going until one of the birds gives up and flys away.  It is really interesting to watch.

There have been recordings of Great Tits actually killing other birds.  Their beak is a good weapon – it must be as it can open a hazel-nut.

HABITAT
The Great Tit is a true woodland bird.  They rely on insect food to feed their young.

Great Tits also depend on garden feeders and bird tables and can make themselves at home in gardens.

Great Tit enjoying a fat ball

Great Tit enjoying a fat ball

SIZE OF BIRD – 14 cm

EGGS   5 to 11 eggs are laid.  The eggs are white with red spots

INCUBATION  – 13 to 14 days

BREEDING – One brood

Great Tits have been known to take over blue tits nest boxes.  They put a new lining over the blue tits eggs and hatch their own eggs (bird against bird again)

FLEDGING
3 weeks (approx).  The young are fed mainly on caterpillars.  The Great tits time their families to work with the peak numbers of caterpillars.  This time changes each year.

Question – how do the birds know weeks in advance when there will be the most caterpillars about.

NEST
The Great Tit makes a nest from grasses, moss, wool and any other material that is available.  They will nest in many places.  Some of the places are

  • hole fronted nest boxes,
  • tree holes,
  • eaves,
  • stone walls,
  • flowerpots

Males take little or no part in building the nest, but they feed the hen while she is incubating and laying the eggs.

NEST BOXES
  1 1/8 inch (29mm) diamater entrance hole or slightly larger.  Interior depth of at least 5 inches (127mm) from hole to floor. 

Floor needs to be at least 4 inches x 4 inches (100mm x 100 mm)

SONG
Most of the birdsong has a ringing quality but lots of different calls have been described for the Great tit.  The song has been described as ‘clink’ and ‘teacher-teacher-teacher’

MY GREAT TIT NOTES

Great Tits should be welcome in the garden as they feed their young on protein – rich caterpillars. 

They also benefit from our birdtables and bird feeders – especially in winter.

Once the fledglings are independent from their parents they feed in flocks with other species of tits. 

They roost together in Summer and Autumn.

In winter, so they have better protection from the freezing cold weather they nestle alone in any crevice or perhaps a hole in a tree.   I know they will be visiting my bird feeders for many months to come.

It’s good to know the birdfood I put out and the hedges round the garden are useful and helping Great Tits and other birds keep in good condition.

I would like to thank Sara from FARMING FRIENDS for the photograph of the Great Tit eating a fatball. Thanks Sara

House Sparrow Fact Sheet

house-sparrow-female-i-th

SONG

A variety of ‘cheep and chirp’
One of the reasons they sing is to keep in contact with the flock they are in.

FEEDING

House sparrows are seed eaters.  They means they have beaks that let them crack open the husk and get the seed from inside.  Many birds can’t do this.

House sparrows eat a variety of bird food and scraps.

Some food they enjoy –

  • nyjer seed
  • peanut granules
  • black sunflower seeds
  • millet
  • Also a variety of kitchen scraps

House sparrows pick insects from spiders webs. They feed their nestlings on insects.

House sparrows steal food from  the beaks of other birds.

Sparrows use bird tables, ground feeders and hanging feeders.

DESCRIPTION

The male house sparrow has

  • brown upperparts that are streaked with black
  • grey cheeks, rump and crown
  • black bin

Female and juvinile birds are –

  • more softly patterned
  • do not have the grey on the rump and crown
  • do not have the black on the head
  • They are plainer than the male

cockney-house-sparrow-mal1

HABITAT

House sparrows spend a lot of time in gardens and near buildings.  They feed communally.

After the young have fledged the parents use the nest as a warm roost during the winter months.

(Note:  I wonder if that explains what I saw last November when I saw a sparrow carrying nesting material in it’s beak.)

The young born that summer use ever greens to roost in during the cold winter nights.  They roost together for warmth and to survive.

(Note:  We have a lovely evergreen hedge that is full of birdsong in winter.  The area is alive with birdsong in winter.)

SIZE OF BIRD

Length 14 cm ( 5 1/2 inches)
Wingspan: 20-22 cm (8-9 inches)

EGGS

  • 2-3 clutches of 3-5 eggs
  • The eggs are brown blotched white eggs
  • The eggs are laid any time from April to August.

INCUBATION

  • Eggs are incubated for 11-14 days
  • Both parents incubate the eggs

FLEDGING

  • Fledging is 11-19 days after hatching

NEST

  • Lined with feathers and bits of plants
  • The nest is built by both parents
  • House sparrows usually nest near buildings
  • House sparrows sometimes make a nest which is domed.  They make this of different grasses in a tree or a hedge.
  • House sparrows have been known to chase house martins and swallows out of their nests.  The house sparrow then uses the ready built nest to rails its young.

OTHER HOUSE SPARROW NOTES

  • You rarely see a lone sparrow
  • The house sparrow rarely lives away from humans
  • House sparrows can survive in areas as diverse as the subartic towns of Sweden to the tropical cities of Brazil.

I put some wire round my bird table a while ago to keep out pigeons and rooks – here is a photo of some sparrows at the bird table – but Birdy Cafe was empty when they flew in.

Sparrows at an empty bird table

Sparrows at an empty bird table

If you have anything else that can be added about House Sparrows please let me know.

Chaffinch Fact Sheet

Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs )
A male chaffinch

Male Chaffinch

Male Chaffinch

FEEDING

Chaffinches eat a variety of seeds and scraps. They eat Peanuts granules and sunflower hearts.

They also eat

fruits
berries
insects
spiders
grain

WINTER AND AUTUMN
 Chaffinch is a seed eater and in the winter and autumn feeds in flocks on farmland

NESTING SEASON
In the nesting season they they forage in trees and bushes, hunting for spiders, caerpillars, flies and other inverterbrates. Chaffinches also have the ability to feed on flying insects by snatching them from the sky.

Chaffinches feed on birdtables and garden feeders all year round.

DESCRIPTION:
The chaffinch can be identified by it’s short , thick bill and white wing marking bars.

Males in spring, are very colourful. They have blue grey crowns, nape and bill, olive green rump, and pink underparts

Females are plain but they do have white wingbars. Upperparts are olive borwn. underparts pale greyish.
Adult chaffinches moult in early Autumn and from then on, through the winter they are a paler colour.

When Spring comes round again the male’s pink face and body and blue grey crown returns – its’ breeding plumage.

In flight the chaffinch closes its wings completely (this is inbetween flapping it’s wings). When the chaffinch closes its wings completely it rises and falls in the air . It is that undulating flight that help identify the chaffinch in flight.

HABITAT:
The chaffinch can be found nearly everwhere where are are trees. It is a woodland bird but also lives in gardens and parks.

SIZE OF BIRD:

Length 14.5 cm (6 inches)
Wing span 24.5-28.5cm (10-11 1/2 inches).
Weight 18-29g. ( 3/4 – 1 0z)
EGGS: pale blue with pink and brownish speckling.

INCUBATION: 11-13 days. The female chaffince is responsible for the incubation.

BREEDING: April to July. Usually only have one brood.

FLEDGING: 12-14 days.

NEST: the nest is a lichen and cobweb covered nest. It is made of grass and moss. Usually made in a fork in a tree and is lined with feathers and rootlets.

It is the female that decorates the outer part of the nest with lichens and spiders webs. She is also solely in charge of building the nest.

When the famila Chaffinch begins to nest build she ties parts of spiders web around twigs. Moss and grass is then added. She then puts more nesting material into finish the nest.

(I would love to see a chaffinch decorating her home with litchen and spiders webs. It sounds like something out of a story book)

NEXT BOXES:
Many garden birds like to nest in trees. The chaffinch is one of them. Putting up nest boxes encourages breeding and helps many birds. I do not have any information about nest box sizes for chaffinches. They usually nest in orchards, hedgerows, gardens and trees.

SONG:

Alarm call is ‘pink, pink’.
The song sounds like ‘chip, chip, chip, chooee, chooee, cheeoo.
The male chaffinch sings all the time during the breeding season. Sings a small number of song phrases. They are usually sung in the same order.
Chaffinches in different parts of England have different ‘dialect’ songs . We may not be able to tell the different. The difference in their song means they only attract chaffinches with the same song who are from the same local area. There may be a survival reason here. If two chaffinches from the same area breed they will know the area and a local female will be more likely to breed in an environment she knows. A strange chaffinch would have to take time to get to know the area and where the food was. This seems logical anyway.

DISTRIBUTION:
Almost the whole of Europe. Males do not move as far as the females in winter. Males stay near their breeding grounds.

Males and females often separate in winter.

MY CHAFFINCH NOTES

So the chaffinches that visit our gardens are more than likely to have made the area their home.

I sometimes wonder how many generations of birds I’ve fed over the past ten to 15 years.

Chaffinches often visit my garden and feeders. I take them a bit for granted. (Maybe they take me for granted as well! Or take the food I put out for granted)

I’ll keep on feeding the birds. It’s good to see the sparrows, chaffinches and blackbirds mingling on the lawn.

Feed the Birds!!

If  you have any more ‘chaffinch information’ I’d love to know.

TAKE A LOOK AT MY SHORT CHAFFINCH VIDEO

Trisha