As I am sitting here in the house with the window wide open, I can hear an abundance of birdsong. There are blackbirds, chaffinches and a collared dove and it is music to my ears. Listening to the birds is such a relaxing, life-affirming and simple activity – why not try and reserve a couple of minutes of your day to switch off and tune in?! Dawn and dusk are best, but with the little traffic around at the moment, any time of day would be just fine. If you are writing a nature journal, you can record your findings afterwards.
After talking about the great tit, chaffinch and blackbird in our last post about birds, today I would like to move on to the blue tit, wood pigeon and collard dove, all birds that can be regularly seen and/or heard and probably need very little introduction.
The blue tit is a characterful little bird and reminds me a bit of a masked highwayman with the black stripe running across the eyes. People often have difficulty telling blue tits and great tits apart, but the former is the only tit species with blue in its plumage.
As with the birds discussed in the previous post, once you get your ear in, you will hear these lovelies everywhere. If I had to write it down, it would go like this I I I _ _ _ _ or I I _ _ _ _ _ but that might just serve me – I am a very visual person. In any way, it is a small number of calls in a high note followed by a number of calls in a lower note, all in all a very simple song of two notes with variations in it. I have also seen it written as ‘tsee-tsee-tsee-chu-chu-chu’. Have a listen here.
According to Stephen Moss and Brett Westwood in the BBC’s Guide to Garden Birds, a blue tit male and female need to collect up to 12,000 caterpillars in the 12-14 days they feed their young in the nest. Extraordinary! Here is a nice children’s story that explores this theme.
What can I say, wood pigeons seem to be pretty much everywhere in our towns and countryside, but would you know their call? This one, like the ‘teacher-teacher’ of the great tit, is super easy. Some people know it as ‘my toe’s bleeding, Betty’, I know it as ‘my toe IS bleeding’ – why on earth bleeding toes – and who is Betty?! Anyway, you can make up your own – whatever works for you! Have a listen here and it will all make sense.
The collared dove gets its name from the black stripe around its neck and is very easy to recognise. It is a close relative to the wood pigeon but has only been in Britain since 1956 – it originates in Eastern Europe and had slowly made its way over to our shores where it has become one of the most common birds. The call is a very simple and monotonous ‘United! United!’. Have a listen here.
I hope you enjoy listening out to these three common birds. We’ll do more posts on bird songs, and bird language, in the coming weeks – before we know it we’ll all be experts!