Here in wildlife enquiries we occasionally get sent some rather interesting finds including pictures of unsual garden visitors, feathers and occasionally dead birds. We are more than happy to take a look at feathers and pictures but we are not too keen on the dead birds, they don't travel well in the post and rarely arrive in one piece and make for a pretty unpleasant surprise first thing in the morning!!! So if you come across something that has died and you want to know more about it, get in touch first before popping the unfortunate critter in the post!
I thought i'd share with you all some pictures I took of something that was sent into us recently that might be of interest, have a look below and see if you can guess what species of bird this plumage belongs to?
Here is the wing with some of the feathers removed for illustrative purposes, as Rolf Harris would say, 'can you tell what it is yet?'
I am of course talking about nesting boxes! Putting up nesting boxes in gardens at this time of the year has got to be one of the best ways to help give our feathered friends a great chance of finding a top spot for raising the next generation when the spring arrives. In this blog i'll talk about boxes with small entrance holes.
Your standard small nesting box with a 32 mm entrance hole is potentially a nest site for house sparrows, great tits, blue tits and possibly coal tits in gardens, also pied flycatchers if you are in the right areas with the right habitat. You can limit the variety of species that can use the box by fitting a nesting plate over the hole, blue tits can squeeze into a 25 mm opening, but 32 mm is usually a good size hole that can attract a range of species in a garden. In order for these species to feel safe enough to nest, the box needs to be positioned somewhere open, so they can check the coast is clear, relatively disturbance free and ideally at or above two metres high. House sparrows are a little bit more sensitive than the tits so go higher for them if you can whilst some tits will nest much lower but would be more vulnerable to ground predators as a result.
Some good examples of tit nesting locations are tree trunks, fenceposts, shed, garage and house walls. Always choose somewhere that has open access to and from the hole but some cover nearby to disguise their approach and exit from the nest. In order to prevent the young inside getting cooked during hot weather, try to avoid walls or the side of trunks that face south, north or west are usually fine. House sparrows seem to prefer their boxes being located up under the eaves in loose colonies, two or three on the same wall a few feet apart could be the start of a nice little colony. If you cannot get up to the eaves, have a look on your house to see if any window ledges offer an over hang, as long as they are above two metres there is a chance that sparrows will have a look.
Remember, these boxes don't need a perch under the hole, these birds can cling quite easily to the hole itself. You might see them pay a visit to check it out over winter, they may even use it to roost but for most of us it takes a while for the box to be accepted so prepare to be patient!
Any questions, add them using the comment box below!!!
So spring is keeping us waiting and here in the wildlife enquiries team we have been getting some of our usual and not so usual queries.
Lots of window collisions have been reported, it is a sad fact that even masters of ambush can fall foul of colliding with large solid surfaces such as windows and patio doors. At least two were as a result of a heated chase, with birds trying to avoid the snatches of a Sparrowhawk. Although the Sparrowhawk is also a common casualty. There are simple steps one can take to avoid this.
March would not be March without ducks turning up gardens. Preferring to nest away from the busy waters edge, even the most suburban garden provides welcome shelter as well as peace and quiet to bring up the kids. It won’t be long before little bundles of cuteness will be getting into all sorts of japes. One of our favorite enquirers here in the wildlife team was a young man pondering if Duck’s (like Keith Richards apparently) are immortal as he had never seen a dead duck! After being told ducks can become the victims of predators the young man was not convinced as according to him predators are fictional and only appear in the popular film with Arnold Schwarzenegger...
Many reports of Waxwings still coming in strong as they migrate from the UK to their breeding grounds... The Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) which visits the UK during winter is larger, fatter and greyer than the Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) which breeds in open wooded areas in North America. The cedar waxwing is known to get drunk after feeding on fermented fruit...I personally would love to see them in The red lion on a Friday night...alas they will remain propping up the bars of Florida and the other states!
Our cheeky punk rockers of the bird world are still being seen as the volumes of emails received this week reflect. It seems that folk are still tantalised a shade of light red by these quirky birds. Many waxwings are now fuelling up for the journey home. We wish them well.
And finally...Still have no idea how this ended up in our department?!
Have a Happy Easter : )