One of the features of my garden over the last couple of weeks has been the sheer number of baby birds blundering about everywhere, fresh out of the nest.

Many still have the tell-tale yellow 'gape flanges', such as on this Robin. These are the fleshy edges at the base of the bill that, together with the bright inside of the young birds' mouths (the 'gape') provide the useful indication to parents of where to shove any food.

There's a brood of Wrens touring the garden, too, the young birds making high pitched begging noises almost constantly; they will encourage both parents to continue feeding them for well over a week after they have left the nest before they become independent. You can still just make out the yellow gape flange on this bird, too.

Meanwhile, up in Spruce tree, a young Woodpigeon, easy to tell from the adults by the lack of white neck markings, has found a good place to evade the Foxes that rove the garden at dawn and dusk.

I've also seen young Great Spotted Woodpeckers with their red crowns, young Goldfinches which don't have red faces, and there are speckly young Blackbirds everywhere (below).

So, does that mean that's it, the breeding season is over? Well, for some garden bird species certainly their use of a nest is over, even if they've still got hungry fledglings to feed dispersed around the garden.

However, some birds may still be midway through their latest brood, and a few may even be in the process of starting the next.

Remembering which species has what number of broods is a feat for a, erm, for a... what are they called, those people who can remember lots of things?

So I thought you might like a quick ready-reckoner of the typical number of broods raised by various garden birds:

  • 1 brood: Crow, Magpie, Jackdaw, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Swift
  • 1-2 broods: Starling, Woodpigeon, Chaffinch, Great Tit
  • 2 broods: Greenfinch, Wren, House Martin
  • 2-3 broods: House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Robin, Dunnock, Swallow
  • 2-4 broods: Blackbird, House Sparrow
  • 3-6 broods: Collared Dove

Into this equation, you need to factor that some first-time parents might not manage the lower end of the number I've shown, and a few gluttons for punishment may try to slot in an extra brood than the top end.

Plus most birds will re-lay a clutch if their eggs are taken by predators.

Overall, the big message is that many of those species that rear multiple broods may still be very busy indeed, which is a good reminder that the baby boom isn't over yet - and those hedgetrimmers, shears and loppers should stay safely in the shed for a while longer!

  • thanks everyone for your comments. Just to let you know I do read - and enjoy - them all. Hearing people talk about their gardens, and the pleasure they get from their wildlife, is a pleasure in itself

  • Most informative, thankyou. We like to encourage wild birds ( wrens, warblers, robins, nuthatches, bluetits, chaffinches, green woodpeckers,blackbirds & thrushes )  to our heavily wooded garden, & despite abundance of natural food, we like to put nuts & seeds for whatever species visits our garden. They have to compete with squirrels and now a group of parakeets who have attacked our plum tree. However the latter species seem to keep the magpies away!

  • Since moving to our new home in June we've been inundated with house & tree sparrows, starlings, doves, jackdaws, & a wood pigeon. They all mingle on the bird table or bird bath, tho the sparrows are in charge of everything, they arrive mob handed & the others give way to them!! We also have a ground feeder which the larger birds enjoy, but if the sparrows are on it they have to resort to pecking around in the grass. It's great being able to watch them all, they're gorgeous & so welcome in our garden along with the bees, butterflies & anything else that wanders in. 

  •  A delightful read, thank you Adrian. Earlier  I too had loads of blackbirds and starlings foraging for sultanas on my lawn for their hungry broods (whilst I sat at my leisure and had them literally around my knees). Later it was a lawn full of juvies doing the foraging , all unafraid of me which was terrific. Of course , I never looked them in the eye and remained very still. Living alone this was a lifeline to me in the lockdown. The birds eventually became my 'bubble' too. My water bowls were a lifelline to the birds during the weeks of dry hot weather .I appreciate your quick ready-reckoner  for the number of broods various species have, thank you.