It's getting to that time of year when there are just so many things to talk about, so many wildlife stories happening in the garden. Which to choose?!
Will it be spring butterflies, tadpoles, birdsong? Or just the simple joy of spring.
But, no, I thought we’d talk about bird behaviour. And in particular I thought we’d investigate the wild slapping sounds that are coming from my trees at the moment – and quite likely from yours, too.
The source is a surprisingly pugnacious bird, at least at this time of year. Two of them will line up on a horizonal brow, eyeing each other suspiciously, sizing each other up.  They raise their wings aggressively and take little jabs at each other. And then they try to thwack each other. Hard. It is sparring Wood Pigeons! 
It is like those paintings you see of Robin Hood and Little John having a stick fight with each other while balanced on a log. The birds try to leap on each other’s backs, and the feathers can genuinely fly.
It is a territorial battle between two males. A Wood Pigeon territory is typically small – maybe just a tree or two, or even just part of a large tree. The ground beneath is usually a neutral zone where rivalries are put aside, but up in the branches it is serious stuff!
The territory owner will usually win, forcing the intruder backwards along the branch and then into flight (in both senses of the word).
The victor will often bow deeply, flaring his tail like waving a flag, his equivalent of a boxer pumping the air in victory salutation. It is fascinating to watch, and bizarrely the same action as when he is wooing a mate.
Males will also demonstrate their territory with a display flight. They fly up into the air above their territory and rise steeply. At the top of the manoeuvre, they clap their wings sharply a couple of times, and then glide down, before doing it again on another lap of the garden.
On landing, he will usually burst into song, which I render as “Don’t want to go, I don’t want to go, I don’t want to go, I”.
Listen, too, for his other two songs: ‘mo m’m’m’mawww’ is his display song when huffing and puffing in pursuit of his female, chest puffed out. And the quiet ‘mer mawwww’ is his nest-showing song where he suggests to his mate what he thinks is a suitable place in a tree to build their rudimentary nest.
It is easy to dismiss Wood Pigeons as boring birds, they are now so ubiquitous. But take the time to watch them and they are fascinating and indeed attractive birds. And they are (currently) winners where so much other wildlife is struggling.
They are a reminder that, in nature, even the commonplace can be a source of wonder.
Anonymous