Specialist birds

The garage-roosting blue tit awaiting my arrival in the morning

The garage-roosting blue tit awaiting my arrival in the morning

We have a large rookery nearby so are visited regularly by rooks. Just now they are intent on snapping twigs from our larch trees for their nest building, but they are also becoming rather troublesome at the feeders. Some are content to pick fallen seeds from under the feeders, along with a mixture of chaffinches, greenfinches, woodpigeons, collared doves and jackdaws. However one or two have managed to work out how to hang on to a feeder and pick seeds from the opening. Because of their voracious appetites the feeders are soon emptied and the smaller birds’ food supply quickly disappears.

One rook that is particularly good at emptying the feeders has a drooping wing. Because of this deformity it is distinctive and has now been coming here for at least four years. I suspect corvids are fairly long-lived and no doubt they accumulate specialist knowledge such as this as they get older. Because of its innovative abilities I suppose it deserves some wild bird seed the same as the smaller garden birds, but I just wish it wouldn’t bring its extended family.

Another bird I know has been with us for some time is a blue tit that has roosted in the garage for the last two winters. I have to leave the up-and-over door open until it is nearly dark to let the blue tit in, even if this means going out in my slippers before bed time when I sometimes forget about closing the door. I’ve tried to figure out where it roosts but I’m no further forward. Part of the garage is a shed where I have some baskets I use for vegetables hanging from the rafters. I suspect it goes in to one of those so I must bring them all down and check them some day.

In the morning the blue tit is always in the shed part of the garage, sitting on top of a wooden step ladder and looking out of the window awaiting my arrival. It has become reasonable tame, now being accustomed to my opening the door and entering. It generally flies briefly to one of two remaining bunches of garlic bulbs hanging from the rafters, then over my head and out of the shed door. It’s time for roosting inside will be coming to an end, as soon it will be either sitting on eggs or looking after a mate sitting on eggs. It will be really interesting to see if it is back next winter since smaller birds are not nearly as long-lived as their bigger cousins. It will also have to stay out of the way of the pair of sparrowhawks that have regular forays through the garden!

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