You might think that it’s the calm before the storm out there in your garden. That the blackbirds and robins are quietly going about their business in readiness for the upcoming breeding season. But, believe it or not, some birds will actually be putting the finishing touches to nests and settling down to lay eggs. Yes, really!
There’s a few early starters you may find in your garden:
As well as being very territorial and chasing away any interloper, robins have actually been found nesting in every month of the year! Usually it’s from early March, but there’s no reason why you won’t spy your garden friend nesting right now. In fact, we've already had calls telling us about nest building.
Look out for song thrushes too. These speckle-breasted songsters also have a prolonged breeding season, and again have been found nesting in most months.
Keep an eye out for blackbirds. Now, like robins, they start nesting in early March, but we've had reports of nest building and, incredibly, already having feathered chicks.
An urban thing?
It’s been suggested that perhaps it’s an urban thing, what with more hiding places, mainly in garden shrubs, and potentially warmer temperatures than the countryside. This is certainly the case for woodpigeons, with urban pigeons beginning to lay eggs in February. We've had news that their cousins, the much daintier collared doves, are already breeding. They can, in fact, breed all year round if the conditions are right.
Down at the park
Away from your garden, a trip down to your local parkland pond or reservoir may well result in spotting more birds on eggs.
Great-crested grebes can lay eggs anytime from mid-February and, in exceptional cases, even earlier! They build their nests from weeds and twigs, where they’ll hatch out 3-4 stripy youngsters. If not nest-building yet, look out for their elaborate, dancing courtship display.
Take a look in the trees too for a massive, untidy nest. This could well be the work of grey herons. I always think they look a bit ridiculous in trees, but this is where they choose to nest, safe from any ground predators. After laying their eggs during February, 25-26 days later three or more Mohican-hairstyled punks will hatch out. We've seen the herons repairing nests from our viewpoint in Verulamium Park, St. Albans. For the next two months we'll be showing you the goings on at the herony, so why not pay a visit if you're in the area?
What’s breeding in your garden?
Have you seen any evidence of early breeding? Is there a robin in your nestbox? Have you seen a heron sitting on a nest at your local park? Make a comment and let us know what you’ve seen and where you’ve seen it...
Blue tits busy flying in and out of nest boxes but no signs of building yet.
Billy H. Cumbria.
Thanks again for all your comments people.
This morning I saw a starling singing loudly from the rooftops opposite my house. He then preceded to check out the hole in the house which starlings (and swifts in 2009) have nested in previously. So it looks like there might be a family of squabbling starlings moving in across the road shortly.
Sunday morning Great Tit viewing box, then occupying then popping in and out for a few minutes, but not seen since!
Have had two young goldfinches feeding on niger seeds. They still haven't got their red markings.
We had a pair of Collared Doves mating on the top of a telegraph pole earlier this week. Rather precarious!
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