Archive for the Birds Category

A New Bird

Posted in Birds, Wildlife on May 9, 2011 by thecognitivekey

Yes, indeed, a new visitor to the garden. I had noticed over the past few days a new bird splashing in the bird bath. It had a dark brown cap on its head and was pretty much sparrow size. I couldn’t find it in my books at a first glance. It was there again this evening, having a bath, flying to the fence then back for another splash, fence, splash, fence, splash. It finally left when a starling arrived. Then, after the starling, another bird turned up, this time with a black cap. A quick look through the book shows it to be a Blackcap. The male has a black cap and the female a red/brown cap. So there are at least two visiting the garden. They are summer visitors and are jolly welcome

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Niger seed

Posted in Birds, Wildlife on April 13, 2011 by thecognitivekey

The goldfinches have been enjoying the seed I have put out for them. Goldfinches have always passed through the garden, often stopping by the birdbath for a couple of sips before continuing their journey. Usually in pairs. Since I put the niger seed feeder up there have been many more goldfinches. Up to a dozen at one time, fighting for position on the feeder or just eating the spill on the ground.

Since I started feeding the goldfinches (and it is only really goldfinches and siskins who will feed from the special feeder) I have had to move the feeder. They are such messy eaters that they spill far more than they eat. The original position was starting to have a mound of niger seed beneath it. Time to more it. It was moved to the other side of the garden. Again they are messy feeders and I was tempted to put the niger feeder to hang over the flower beds so I could just dig the overspill seed into the ground.

Ha! But all has now changed. When filling the feeder the other evening I noticed that there was a lot of broad-leaf weed growing in the lawn, all of it directly below the niger feeder. In fact it was a circle of weed where the seed had fallen. So, this isn’t the best quality niger seed. The top quality stuff is actually called nyjer seed and is trade marked – this seed is heat treated to ensure it can’t germinate. Other seed is sold, especially in this country as niger or thistle seed. Thistle is completely different from nyjer. A totally different plant. I have now had a close look at the niger seed I have and I must admit it does rather look like thistle. So, once the goldfinches have finished the current supplies there will be no more. Goldfinches will have to find their food elsewhere, though they will be welcome to share the nuts with the tits and greenfinches, and to get a drink. But no more niger. I shall be putting the weedkiller down shortly before the weed gets too firm a grip on the lawn.

Goldfinches

Posted in Birds, Wildlife on February 25, 2011 by thecognitivekey

I have been feeding the wild birds in the garden for many years. Being in a small village surrounded by a good mix of fields, hedgerows and woodland means I get to see quite a variety of birds.

Goldfinches have been regular visitors to the bird bath for a quick drink. Usually in pairs they rarely stay very long. A quick sip and they are off.

Elizabeth had bought a nyjer seed feeder for her garden in the hope of encouraging more goldfinches to her garden. She has the odd goldfinch drinking at her bird bath. As you no doubt know, nyjer seeds are a favourite with goldfinches and the feeder is designed such that only goldfinches (or siskins) will feed at it. Elizabeth was having no luck, so I was given the feeder to try in my garden.

Within a day a pair of goldfinches were feeding, usually on opposite sides of the feeder. There are 4 feeding perches, two lower and two higher. The pairs of perches are 180 degrees apart. After a couple more days there were 4 goldfinches. But they were not using all the perches, only two goldfinches would feed at once. If another tried to land on a feeding perch a fight started immediately. It rather seems that goldfinches will only feed with their mate. Other goldfinches are driven off.

It was interesting to see these fights as the birds climb upwards in a spiral beating wings against each other, until one decides to leave the area. Many times a day there were fights.

Today I topped up the seeds and I noticed that the goldfinch is a messy feeder and drops a lot of seed on the ground. Oh no, more weeds to be removed.

Later, I noticed that there were 5 goldfinches. The usual fights ensued, then a sixth goldfinch arrived. Then for some reason a couple of the goldfinches moved to the grass and started eating the spilled seed there, they were joined by the other pair. So 2 goldfinches on the feeder and 4 on the ground. The odd thing was that the 4 on the ground didn’t mind each other’s company, had they been feeding or attempting to feed that close on the feeder there would have been a fight. So they can be social when the circumstances are right. Maybe there is no competition on the ground whereas they can see there are a limited number of feeding perches on the feeder. I don’t know the answer. But the goldfinch record for my garden currently stands at 6.