We’ve had the first batch of babies through here: baby Great Tits and Blue Tits (who together form a gang which dominates the airwaves and the feeders); baby starlings (ditto); baby sparrows (babies well-behaved, it’s the adults that are little highway bandits with the bird food, especially worms); baby squirrels; baby magpies; one baby jackdaw; baby robins.
I say the sparrows are like mini highway men and women, shaking down every bird with a worm in its mouth. However, some parents could not wait until I opened the bag of worms and went for a little banditry of their own: (short video so watch until the end for the pay-off; note run-on part of another bird)
This was one of a pair of Great Tits in a nest box at the end of the garden, a pretty straight shot from the conservatory. Their little ones have sprung already, a couple of weeks ago. They are two of the beefiest fledglings I have ever seen. Just goes to show what a steady diet of worms does for you.
I am sure there are a number of other babies hidden well in the wood which we haven’t seen, for instance baby chaffinches and starlings. However, babies noticeable by their absence are baby blackbirds.
Which reminds me: HE’S BACK! I mean in the back yard, of course, and by ‘him’, I mean Bossy Boy, our adopted bird-son. Together with his mate, Bossy Girl (aka Twinkle Toes), he has reclaimed all the territory he lost in early spring (see previous post). He has been shouting about the new regime from the top of the telephone pole across the street, from our guttering and chimney pots, from the trees in the neighboring yard. He regularly slaps cease and desist orders onto intruders, other male blackbirds in other words, although every once in a while I have to intercede on behalf of other birds, like the female with the bad leg, or an adult that’s just trying to feed babies.
We had been wondering when he and she would make their second attempt at babies, where their new nest is. As you may recall the first set came to an untimely end in a nest opposite to our front door in a relatively exposed position. It seems that Twinkle Toes learned from this. At first we thought she was building in a stand of evergreens across the street.
But then, as I explained above, there was a regime change out back, and then it appeared she was building again, only this time in the wood adjacent to our yard. Now, here’s the interesting thing, for me anyway: did Boss launch his offensive and her new nest building follow OR did she decide she wanted her nest in the wood and he had to make it possible territory-wise? Essentially, did she dictate the territory change when she decided the location of her first nest, and he had no choice but to follow?
Because, as I was watching her nest building activities, it seemed very much like the second option. We had already seen from last year as well as this that when she was in nest building mode, his role was as the muscle for protection purposes: he would follow her from her gathering or mud collection places to the nest site, back and forth, making sure nothing impeded her. We saw this about a month back, when it seemed the new site was across the street.
But then we saw her gathering and collecting again, only this time in the back yard and then heading into the woods presumably to a different site with Boss in her wake. Now, in April and May, Boss would have had a bitter battle from Woodsy, the resident male out back at that time. And initially, he did but it seemed as if overnight the regime changed.
I admit that my observations are not scientific, but based on what I saw, she determined this territory change. I think this is different from how territory choices are usually presented, female staying within the male-defined boundaries.
At any rate, they are now collecting worms since this past weekend, so happily, they have a new crop. But, he is bossy: I have been called from the laptop a few times, when he marches into the dining room looking for worms or appears at an open window….
Not bad this year, not a lot for me to rant about at any rate. Excellent web cam footage of Sparrowhawk and Golden Eagle nests. The webcam footage has always been the strength of the show, but this time it wasn’t almost drowned out by some of the inanities coming out of the presenters’ mouths. Someone must have had a word.
They did have web cams on blue tit and great tit nest boxes and were even able to reveal a case of involuntary adoption. A box that first housed abandoned great tit eggs was taken over by a female blue tit who then laid her own eggs.All of them hatched, but only the great tit chicks survived to be cared for by the single blue tit stepmother. They were down to four, almost ready to fledge, when three were picked off in short order by a jay sticking its beak into the box. And then there was one. Which did successfully fledge but God only knows what happened to it.
It made me want to take a body count every morning. Especially as the show and my backyard seemed to be parallel universes: (1) shortly after watching a film clip on sparrowhawks bathing, I looked out the conservatory door to see a sparrowhawk sitting in one of the water dishes at the bottom of the garden looking up at a nest box which housed little great tit chicks (2) there has been at least one jay constantly present in the garden hanging around the peanut feeders, one of which is relatively close to that same nest box. And, it seems that the little birds dive for cover more at the sight of this jay than at the presence of magpies, jackdaws, or squirrels.
And you all remember that we once had a golden eagle in our garden….
Breaking and Entering (squirrel style)
Seems like the great tits are not the only burglars in the yard. The squirrels have discovered the el Dorado that is the garage….
That’s what we called them. The B&B I stayed at during my last contract was a working farm that seemed to do everything: crops, sheep, cattle etc. These three characters greeted us as we drove in an out of the drive. “Why are these three in a paddock on their own” I asked the farmer. “They were born at the same time, males, and get along. Next field over there are four more males, born around the same time, they get along…” I was getting the drift: the naughty boys were not only segregated from the females, but from each other according to temperament. There was something to this, I can’t say what. At any rate, I had to stop coming out to my car in the morning at the same time as the farmer with their food bags. Because on a few occasions the farmer and I exchanged pleasantries, they started to associate my appearance with their feeding time. Geez, me, animals and food seem to always form a weird triangle.
By the way, these are Texel sheep. Go ahead, click on the link, but I warn you to make sure you are not in work or any place where someone might casually look over your shoulder. You have been warned.
Last post ended on a sweet note…
So shall this one. A bear at one brother’s house (see last post). This is wildlife from another’s. Don’t worry, the mother does come to retrieve it eventually…
Attribution: All photos, except for the naughty boys and the peanut bag, are courtesy of Tony John. Video work of the fawn courtesy of my niece Madison.