On Sunday I saw the first young starlings of the year, four in total with their parents, but as the week has gone by more and more have been arriving and yesterday I counted at least 24, not including their parents and I must admit it’s hard to count them as they keep dashing around in hot pursuit of a parent or flying up into the trees, so it may have been more.
It’s always nice to see them and watch them develop as the days go by. On Sunday the small group was definitely being fed by the parent birds, but yesterday there has been quite a change although with some of them still being fed, but I imagine the early arrivals are at a more advanced stage and have been taking food for themselves from the feeder, suet logs and squares, under the watchful eye of parents sitting up in a vantage point. A couple of days ago the parent birds were showing them where the water sources were and it made me laugh because they were taking them to the shallow saucer, much as young children would swim in the shallow end of a pool. Yesterday they had clearly progressed and are now bathing in the water and bird bath saucers. The picture shows three of them at the saucers.
I’m sure I saw one adult behaving as if to show the little ones how to bathe and what to do and then three or four of them gave it a try for themselves. They were having a lovely splash around and confidence increased as the day went on and more were coming to and fro, either to drink or bathe. The pigeons don’t seem to have been using the bird baths as much this past week, as we’ve had a reasonable amount of rain and so I assume there are other sources of water to be had, but it’s probably just as well as I had to fill both saucers twice yesterday after all the starling activity. At one point a young starling was bathing with a feral pigeon. This morning the youngsters are back and have been in the bird table and on the various feeders, so the parents have shown them all the facilities here as well as where to search in the flowers beds or on the lawn for natural food sources.
Not to forget the other birds, the crow has also been making use of the water dishes to have a drink on a few occasions and when it takes a drink it then throws its head back, as if it’s really enjoying the refreshment. The other day I had put out some offcuts of meat from a bone of pork on the lawn and I think they become rather hard, so the crow took a piece of meat and dumped it in the water dish and sat there eating it. I have seen them do a similar thing in the past with pieces of bread in the gutters. A magpie came down and was a bit wary of the crow, but went over afterwards to see what it had been doing but couldn’t find anything of course.
The starlings are the only baby birds that I have seen arrive in the garden so far but the activity of the robins, sparrows, dunnocks, blue tits and great tits implies that they are going to and fro feeding youngsters at the moment, so I don’t suppose it will be too long before they arrive as well. Other birds that I’ve seen during the past week include the collared doves, the wood pigeons, the feral pigeons of course and also the blackbirds. There is still a reasonable sized flock of sparrows and they have been taking more nesting materials and putting them into the neighbours roof space, where they are roosting. I was watching a sparrow the other day with a discarded feather that it had found and it looked really proud sitting there with other sparrows as much to say, ‘Look what I found! This will do nicely in the nest and be very comfortable’. I’m not sure that the parent birds are able to find many aphids at the moment but they have been scouring the rose bushes, some of the plants in the containers and so forth and I imagine that that is what they are looking for. On the warmer days I have seen some bees in the garden and also one or two butterflies.