Ok, here's a little challenge for you. Just a few weeks ago, I was noseying around in a bush in a friend's garden, when I suddenly realised that something was looking back at me.
See if you can find it.
I moved into another position to get a different view. Now there were two things looking at me.
Have you worked out what they are yet?
Here's a close up of one of them in case you need a better view.
It's a Wood Pigeon chick, known as a squab. I'd guess it's about two weeks old, and its sibling is behind it to the left. Don't they look really really odd at this age, with the straggliest, yellowiest curly 'hair' on their heads and backs?
Baby Collared Doves look very similar at this age, but don't have such a ridiculously outsized beak. A baby Wood Pigeon has to grow into its face!
It was a reminder of how late into the season the pigeon family can continue to nest, and indeed active Wood Pigeon nests have been found in every month of the year, although most breed between April and October.
For the first few days of their lives, these two chicks would have been fed 'crop-milk' by their parents. This isn't regurgitated food; it is actually produced by the adult's body in the food storage pouch at the back of its throat, called the crop. The cells that line the crop wall fill with a milky fluid that has more fat and protein than mammalian milk. Which other birds adopt this strategy? None other than penguins and flamingoes.
So although Wood Pigeons are often ignored or dismissed as being clumsy and dopey, the next time you see one, remember that it is one of the nation's most successful and adaptable birds that gives its youngsters the healthiest start in life, and is the closest you'll get to having a penguin in your garden!