Sunday, 5 December 2010

Feeding frenzy in the garden

As I've mentioned before, I take part in the British Trust for Ornithology's Garden Bird Watch project, and spend a bit of time each day watching what's going on in the garden.  As always, while I dress, I look out of the window, and today was rewarded with a mass of birds.  In about 10 minutes, I saw:

  • a blackbird
  • 4 blue tits
  • 6 long-tailed tits
  • a coal tit
  • a great tit
  • 10 house sparrows
By the time I'd finished dressing, they'd all gone and I could see no bird life in the garden whatsoever.  This is a curious pattern, which I'm going to explore when I get a chance, because I've observed it casually over the past several months.  You can watch for 10 minutes and see nothing move, but then on another occasion there's masses happening.  I suspect the small birds are flocking together to feed at the same time for safety reasons, but that's pure speculation at present.  Watch this space!

Later
While cooking breakfast we happened to notice that they were back.  One thing which I have changed recently is to fill one of the bird feeders with sunflower seed hearts, rather than the mixed seed I use in the other, and is divides the birds quite neatly - all the tits feed on the sunflower hearts, while the sparrows rapidly empty the feeder containing mixed seed.  So if I want to try to count the sparrows, I just watch that feeder and ignore the others, but watching tits, if you'll excuse the vulgarity, can be focused on the sunflower hearts.

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