Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Small Bird News

With the weather deteriorating and conditions for the small birds becoming steadily harsher - there's a near-gale blowing this morning - the competition at the seed feeders has become increasingly fierce, with the chaffinches now in almost complete control of the existing ones.

So we deployed a new bird feeder kindly given to us by PH which he had adapted for Ardnamurchan conditions using half an old plastic football. It's been fascinating to watch how quickly, or slowly, each of the bird species has managed to work out how to get at the seed.

First in were the tits, great and blue, way ahead of the chaffinches who could only watch on with growing frustration.

At an early point the blackbirds discovered they could lean in through the grille and just reach the seed, so some extra mesh was added to prevent this. It's not that we dislike blackbirds but they do,  given half a chance, hoover up the seed at an alarming rate.

The robins didn't have a clue, their only use for the new machine being to use the hanging attachment as a vantage point from which to spot, and then chase away other robins.

An early surprise was how quickly the dunnocks worked it out. They're usually horribly bullied by the chaffinches, so it must have been a pleasurable triumph for them.

One by one, the chaffinches began to work it out, but after a week only a small proportion are getting at the seed, the rest hanging around hoping some will fall out within reach.

The robins didn't even try but the yellowhammers have and are thoroughly frustrated - which is sad as they, again, suffer at the hands of the chaffinches.

No doubt all the chaffinches will work it out so we'll have to set a new challenge.


  1. Engaging pictures and narrative. Have you tried progressively intricate arrangements of clear plastic tubes with peanuts and matchsticks?

  2. It seems a bit harsh to play with bird in short winter days whose time to find food is already limited. It might be best for your guests if you just let them have their fill...