Postcards from Slough
Postcards from Slough

Birds

This page is about some of the birds that regularly visitmy garden. My garden covers an area of about 90 square metres but in a little over twenty years of living here, I have observed 48 species of birds either within or from my garden. The contents of this page may vary from time to time.

Goldfinch

Carduelis carduelis

This finch is a real treat to observe in the garden. Not only is it beautiful, it also has a gentle lilting song. Young goldfinches have the golden wing patches but their heads are a kind of tawny grey, lacking the stunning black, white and red of the adults.

 

Using their long fine beaks they feed on seeds from thistles and teasels. They will also eat insects. The finch in the photo is feeding on nyjer seed in a feeder specifically designed for goldfinches.

 

Goldfinches belong to the family Fringillidae. They are quite common and can be seen all year round. Investing in a feeder may attract them but it depends on the surrounding environment. They like parks, heathland and commons that have plenty of bushes and trees.

Length: 13cm

Blue tit

Cyanistes caeruleus

Belonging to the family Paridae, blue tits are familiar garden birds in Britain and are widespread in the UK throughout the year. They are easy to observe and in April 2014, I observed a pair of blue tits that had stated started taking an interest in one of my nest boxes.

 

They had a clutch of youngsters and by the end of May the chicks had fledged so I removed the nest from the box. It was made of moss, grass and hair cuttings and was very clean with no droppings.

Sadly this egg was unsuccessful and was still born

 

In Britain, winter blue tit numbers usually peak at around 15 million.

Sexes appear similar. Length: 11cm

Great tit

Parus major

Great tits are passerines of the family Paridae. They are the most widespread of the tit family and are common throughout Europe, central and northern Asia, and some parts of northern Africa. The great tit is mostly insectivorous in the summer, but will eat a wide range of food in the winter months. They live in a variety of habitats the most common being deciduous woodland, forest edges and gardens. It is not normally migratory but may move south in harsher winters.

An adult great tit with two young

 

Great tits usually nest in a hole in a tree or a nest box so long as it is well positioned. The female lays a clutch of about 12 eggs and incubates them alone while the male bring food to her. Usually there are two broods in a year. As with blue tits both parents share the feeding of the fledglings.

 

Length: up to 14cm (5½in)

When to put food out for birds

Adult blue tits feed on seeds, nuts and insects but seeds and nuts are indigestible to chicks and fledglings so some people are under the mistaken idea that we should stop feeding birds in springtime.

 

In May 2014 I conducted my own study on the pair of blue tits mentioned earlier with particular interest in their visits to and from the nest box to feed their young.

 

The rate of feeding by both adults combined varied from about 30 to 40 visits per minute. Each time they left the bird box to gather food they would visit the peanut feeder first to keep their own energy high. Then they go to the trees beyond my back fence to forage for insects to take back to the nest to feed their young. They never took nuts back to the nest.

 

The length of time that the nest box was left by both adults was between 1min 20sec to 1min 40sec so each bird had about 2min 40sec to 3min 20sec away from the nest. The synchronisation of the adult’s visits was very good. The answer is if you enjoy feeding garden birds go ahead, the birds know instinctively what to feed their young.

My name is Gary Flint. To make comments on the contents of this website please click below:

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Postcards from Slough gratefully uses images from Grace's Guide.

www.gracesguide.co.uk

 

 

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