Alyth Bird Blog #2
Birds you can spot in Alyth during lockdown – second in a regular series
The response to our first blog post has been great – thanks to all who have engaged!
This time we are looking at (and hearing from) three common garden birds …
A familiar and popular garden songbird whose numbers have declined markedly on farmland and in towns. It can often be heard singing from a high perch with a habit of repeating song phrases two or three times, distinguishing it from singing blackbirds.
FACTOID: It likes to eat snails which it breaks into by smashing them against a stone ‘anvil’ with a flick of the head.
Listen to the song thrush by clicking the photo above
The males (right hand bird in the photo) live up to their name but, confusingly, females (on the left) are brown often with spots and streaks on their breasts. Identification will become even more tricky shortly, when the brownish fledglings emerge from the nests. The bright orange-yellow beak and eye-ring make adult male blackbirds one of the most striking garden birds.
We were looking forward to following the progress of a family of blackbirds that had nested in the rhododendron bush in our garden, but it was not to be. We found all four nestlings dead in the nest – maybe the result of a recent cold snap that included a brief but violent hail storm. Let’s hope that they lay another clutch of eggs and have better luck.
FACTOID: The old West Country dialect name of ‘colly’ survives as the ‘four colly birds’ in the song ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’.
One of the most common UK birds, its mellow song is also a favourite. Listen to the blackbird by clicking the photo above
Noisy and gregarious, these cheerful exploiters of our urban landscape have managed to colonise most of the world. However, there has been a severe decline in the UK house sparrow population in recent times. Notice that the male has a prominent black bib, a grey forehead with chestnut-coloured sides to the head, whilst the female is basically various shades of brown and cream.
FACTOID: So associated with human habitation is this bird that the only other British bird to have ‘house’ in its name is the house martin (see blog #1).
Listen to the house sparrow by clicking the photo above
We hope that you have enjoyed our second Alyth Bird Blog – please feel free to comment or ask any questions. Next time we will look at three common songsters - easier to hear than see!