Wednesday, February 18, 2009

This is a perfect time of year to learn your bird songs; there are still only several bird species singing so you don't get the April/May cacophony that can be very confusing and overwhelming. Another key point is the lack of leaves on the trees meaning that you can actually see the bird producing the song. My process for learning bird song was to hear the bird singing, then go through the process of locating the bird. I would then spend time watching the bird singing and so the whole process stamped the song and species in my brain. Doing this when there is a veil of leaves obscuring tiny birds can make the task very frustrating. Using CD's or tapes is best done when you get home just to reinforce what you've heard earlier in the field and not, I feel, to be done to learn bird song before you go out.
Robins will sing pretty much throughout the winter after a silent phase in August/September but in February they are gradually joined by song thrush, dunnock, blackbird, great tit and I even heard tree creeper at woods mill last week.
If it is a cold, wet or blustery day the general singing is much reduced; why would they bother expending energy to fight against the prevailing conditions. However, a mild, still period such as we're having this week will trigger more song. Sometimes, birds such as robins, song thrushes and blackbirds will sing repeatedly from regular singing posts. I found a good one used by a song thrush on Monday, unfortunately, it is very high in the top of an ash so no chance of photography. Oh well, I must carry on searching as it is a shot I have always wanted. Song itself is a pronouncement of territory and probably serves two purposes, 1) Hello ladies, I'm here! and 2) Be aware guys, I'm here, so stay away!
Casual observation of all the nest boxes, even the ones I put up just a few days ago is revealing interest and visits from both blue and great tits. The nest box I put up outside my bedroom window is regularly being visited by a blue tit pair; I may regret this in May when the young start begging at 5 am!
So, I think the pair-bonding and nest-site phase of the breeding season is well under way, so if you have nest boxes to go up, get them up now!

No comments: