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Bird identification, not very big, kind of "camouflagin


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daigo75
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 12:55 pm    Post subject: Bird identification, not very big, kind of "camouflagin Reply with quote

Hi all,
Does anybody know the name of a bird quite common here in Ireland, which seems to always be in pairs? It's not very big, kind of "camouflaging" colors, and the male (I guess) has color-changing feathers when you see him from different angles (sorry, I don't know how to explain it better). I notice them almost everywhere, especially in car parks where people drop food or (unfortunately) litter, and, as I wrote, they seem to be always in pairs, I've never seen a single one.

I'll try to take a picture of them if I'm lucky enough, but they are quite fast also on the ground.

Thanks for any information. Smile

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walltoall
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 1:22 pm    Post subject: this bird in that car-park Reply with quote

'Colour changing' feathers suggest irridescence. Most likely suspect here, if blackish, with a body about the size of a fist and a beak about an inch long is the starling. They tend to scavenge around supermarkets carparks. But so do wagtails, sparrows, magpies, pigeons. Magpies are spectacularly black and white with an exceptionally long tail. The black is irredescent

To identify it properly could you give me the approximate size in relation to any bird you are totally familiar with (blackbird, wagtail, woodquest etc) and also some idea of the general colour?

Another very common small bird often in pairs is the chaffinch. The male and female are of slightly different colours although the patterns are the same.

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daigo75
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks walltoall, I believe it's the Starling, they look really like the ones I saw.

They're not magpies for sure, I have them in the garden and I'd like to shoot them down as they are eating all the seeds it put for small birds and scaring them. Mad Mad Mad
I had a nice couple of blackbirds singing in the garden, now I can't see them anymore, since those pests arrived!
Since you know about birds, if you have more peaceful suggestions to discourage them, they are welcome. Smile
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walltoall
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 2:25 pm    Post subject: little birdies Reply with quote

It is impossible to discourage one bird without frightening another. You'll have to live with the depradation of the magpies for the sake of the others. But magpies are not all bad. When they are not decimating nests and chickens they may eat slugs! If you have blue-tit boxes scattered around use chicken wire strategically stretched for the small birdies to get through at the expense of magpies and CATS. Blackbirds are territorial and use about an acre a pair. They are closly related to the song thrush and actively chase song-thrushes from their territory. They're not hugely useful as a gardener's friend but do no harm either. Blackbirds are the single most likely cause of the decline on songthrushes apart from cats.

Starlings are gardeners friends even if they do scutter the place now and then and decimate my grapes in September when I forget the netting. They have a huge appetitite for all sorts of creepy crawlies on lawns, particularly April through August. Develop the garden as you will. but if you provide useful shelter you'll get birds nesting. Blue tits are the easiest to set up and they eat huge amounts of bad insects like aphids and the caterpillers of many destructive butterflies and moths. However use the plainest cheapest boxess you can get or make. A recent fashion for fancy boxes (I've one the shape of a caravan) has gone tits up in a manner of speaking. The birdies don't recognises a a red and cream caravan as part of a tree, so they passed it by

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Last edited by walltoall on Tue Mar 10, 2009 1:06 am; edited 4 times in total
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Liparis
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 2:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Starlings will take food put out for other birds, they will also take food put out for your chickens, bunnies, dog, cat, ad infinitum. They are also one of the greatest friends of the gardener, especially when you see lots of them foraging on your prized lawn. They're getting rid of those leatherjackets for you as well as other grubs in the soil.
Bill.

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daigo75
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks. So fare I've seen tiny birds moving in the bushes, they also "had an argument", it was funny to see! It sounded like a discussion between neighoburs, louder and louder until one of them flew away. Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
I also have blackbirds, normally a male sits on the antenna on the roof and sing for a long time. I love their songs, they are cute. Smile
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walltoall
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 5:02 pm    Post subject: The blackbird in the tree top Reply with quote

Believe it or not the 'black' blackbird with the bright yellow bill, is 'declaiming' his territory, not unlike the thugs here in London marking their territory with graffiti. He is giving fair warning to all other male blackbirds within earshot that this is his manor and if they put a beak in, it might get taken off. By setting himself on the highest vantage in the area he will be heard futher and better. He gets up early in the morning to do this and is part of the famous 'dawn chorus' which is as much a part of gardening as worms and slugs,

The female blackbird by the way is a dark brown with a dull beak and rarely if ever makes a sound. She quietly gets on with the business of home-making. I know lots of humans like that. But they seldom sound as fine as the blackbird.

Robins sing in a similar way to the blackbird and are even more territorial. Robins and blackbirds are from the the same family, as are the song-thrushes. All of them are central to the dawn chorus. Blackbirds often do an encore before settling down for the night and for me at least the sound of a single blackbird, giving it large in the Barbican in the centre of London after dark and above the hum of adjacent traffic is one of the wonders of nature.


As for the small birds in your hedges they may be blue tits, chaffinches, wrens, dunnocks, sparrows and depending on just where you are lots of other species as well. Bird recognition is quite fascinating and I think you are the sort of person who would really enjoy it. Notice the birds you see particularly the ones you see regularly. After a while you will recognise the colours, the manners, the song and the general demeanour. After a while the names will come. Within a year you will recognise the names, colours, songs of up to 20 birds maybe 50.

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daigo75
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're right, walltoall, it's amazing to have a look at the birds and to see how they behave. This morning the little black bird was on the roof again, singing his "warning" song. He also flew around, monitoring the area, and it seems he had a discussion with one of his "neighbours", a magpie. It's amazing how such a smaller bird is not afraid of bigger ones. Surprised

Also, in the garden I have some ravens and Jackdaws (that I called "irish crows" because I've never seem them before coming to Ireland). I think these birds are surprisingly intelligent, and I appreciate their work as cleaners. Very Happy

The only thing I miss now are raptors, my favorite birds... But I don't think I will put live preys to attract them, I hope I will see them flying up in the sky, in their circular pattern, one day. Smile
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walltoall
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 8:41 pm    Post subject: birds in my bonnet Reply with quote

The 'ravens' you mention are more likely to be rooks (commonly called crows in Ireland) Ravens are generally confined to the western and south western coasts with cliffs. They are huge with a very long head and a very large bill. All the crow family are very 'bright' and also gregarious.

You will see raptors eventually. They don't go out of their way to make their presense known. You will see the kestral and recognise him as the one who hovers in one place. He's pretty reddish in colour and quite common in your area. There are sparrow hawks in leinster but not very common. I've only ever seen one or two in Ireland. On the edges of the Wicklow mountains you may some day see a red kite soaring on thermals. They are very shy of people, towns and traffic and generally stay very high as they traverse the country. Peregrine falcons can be seen around Dublin on tall buildings.

Keep looking

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daigo75
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you again walltoall, very useful information. Smile
Today I spotted another bird, he/she came out from the bushes to observe me. A little tiny one, smaller than a fist, kind of dark brown/grey, with one horizontal white stripe on the wings. He was quite far, so I can't give more details (I want to take a picture of it, but it's quite small and I have to "ambush" him Wink).
The song was really interesting, it was a single pattern of the same sound with increasing tone, repeated without variations. I was afraid I'd scare him, but, when I got out of the car to open the gate, he just hid in the tree on my right (30 cm away) and started singing from there. I hope he was not cursing... Very HappyVery HappyVery Happy

Also, confirmed the presence of a female blackbird, hiding under the shrubs, a big magpie, busted stealing the bread (I left some big pieces especially for them), and I really hope that one day I will see my favorite bird, the pied wagtail. I have many pictures of them, I'm fascinated by the way the run around, waving their tails, and surprised that they are not scared at all by humans even if they are so tiny! Smile
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Sive
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Walltowall, I used to live in inner-suburban Dublin, and had regular visits from a sparrowhawk, attracted by the hordes of birds on my feeders.
Now that I live in rural Wexford, I have similar visitations......the sparrowhawk flies in....quite a low trajectory, of course the finches etc have long gone from my feeders by the time she gets here (sixth sense?) and she sits on my fence for a while, planning her next move ( and I get a chance to enjoy her through the binoculars )
And once this winter, I found bloodstains and feathers on some paving, so I suspect she caught her breakfast that day!
So maybe sparrowhawks are more common than you think.
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Sive
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BY the way, everyone who's interested in birds.....why not join Birdwatch Ireland ?
http://www.birdwatchireland.ie/
You get a regular magazine for your subscription, and best of all you can take part in their winter survey of garden birds....it lasts for 3 months from December to February, and it's the best way I know of finding out all about the birds that visit your garden (with the help of a good book of course). When I started, several years ago, I only knew the commoner birds, like the robin, blue-tit etc, and couldn't believe how many different species visited my very ordinary little suburban patch.
All thanks to taking part in this survey!
I'll try to remind people about it next November.
And by the way, you don't have to be a member of Birdwatch Ireland to take part!
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walltoall
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 6:16 pm    Post subject: birdwatch Reply with quote

Good on ya Sive. Daigo should follow that lead. daigo. The bird you describe seems to be a Great Tit. They have the most monotonous repitition you could imagine. But the white flash you mention sounds more like a female chaffinch tailing it. Image them on Google or the site Sive mentions. You'll see the pied wagtail in your local supermarket car-park. Park up settle down and observe. If you don't see a pied within five minutes you'll need to clean your windows. The pied is probably the most widespread bird in the British isles, not the commonest mind but you can find them in open country and inner city. Years ago thousands of them used to congregate in O'Connell at night. It was like all the wagtails in Dublin slept in the trees there. The Dubs'll tell you more about it than I can. I'm a sand-dune culchie from Lusk.
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Sean Ph'lib
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2009 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sive wrote:
Hi Walltowall, I used to live in inner-suburban Dublin, and had regular visits from a sparrowhawk, attracted by the hordes of birds on my feeders.
Now that I live in rural Wexford, I have similar visitations......the sparrowhawk flies in....quite a low trajectory, of course the finches etc have long gone from my feeders by the time she gets here (sixth sense?) and she sits on my fence for a while, planning her next move ( and I get a chance to enjoy her through the binoculars )
And once this winter, I found bloodstains and feathers on some paving, so I suspect she caught her breakfast that day!
So maybe sparrowhawks are more common than you think.


Down here in Kerry, Sparrowhawks are very common. I have a pair regularly in my garden. The male terrorises the finches and sparrows, but the hen (very large and impressive) goes for the collared doves, and believe me, when she hits one, the feathers really fly! Funnily enough, they don't bother my chickens. Smile
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walltoall
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2009 11:23 pm    Post subject: enraptured by raptors and snowdrops Reply with quote

Well! It's good to see the sparrowhawk is alive and well and living in the Kingdom and the Smoke. For those of you who are worried about the apparent savagery and blood-letting these wonderful birds are part of nature's plan and [generally] take out the weakest/slowest thus improving the gene pool.

Meanwhile back at the gardening may I remind those with snowdrops who may want to rearrange them or move them around, that .. now is the time.. Snowdrops are unique in that the very best time to move them is just as the flowers fade and that's now. I'm moving vagrants from all over the garden into one place so that in future years my snowdrops will herald the approaching Spring from near our front door.

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