Sunday 10 August 2008

Young Birds

Watching the birds it attracts has always been one of the pleasures of having a garden for me. For the last few months the bird feeders have been visited by a series of fledgling birds, many looking as though they were just out of the nest, still coated in soft fluffy down, barely able to fly, confused by the feeders, the other birds, even the plants. Markings are unclear, blurred, often dull compared with the smart, sharp adults. Some, like the young robins with their brown speckled breasts, look like a different species until you notice the shape and size and characteristic movements. Some come alone, some with parents. Some manage to feed themselves, after staring at the nuts and seeds and pecking gingerly at them. Others wait for a parent to push a chunk of peanut or sunflower seed into their gaping beak. Some find perching and feeding at the same time difficult. A soft fluffy young greenfinch beating its wings wildly as it attempts to hang onto the wire mesh of a feeder and peck at the nuts before slipping and fluttering down onto the heathers below. Siskins manage better, grasping the wire firmly, and despite their minute size are prepared to fend off other birds. A young great spotted woodpecker tries to hang onto a nut feeder but eventually gives up and flops down into the seed tray below and waits to be fed, happy to let its parents hammer out the food. Many of these birds have grown a little now and are more adult-like and competent but there are second and maybe third broods even now in August. The woodpeckers still have the red head patches of youngsters but no longer wait to be fed. But there are finches and tits that are still small and unsure, learning how to deal with the wild world. Watching these birds I marvel at the speed of their development, the determination and vigour with which they tackle life away from the nest.

The photo shows a great spotted woodpecker feeding a youngster. Photo info: Canon EOS 450D, Canon EF-S 55-250 mm IS@250 mm, f5.6@1/4000, ISO 800, raw file converted to JPEG and processed and cropped in DxO Optics Pro

1 comment:

  1. Nice birds, shame the feathered variety ;-)


    PS - don't tell my wife I said that ;-)