Spring in to Action

Spring in to Action

Time for birds setting up home

Next drawings Daniel Mackie

Spring has finally sprung, and this is one of the best times of year to observe birds.  They're out and about more, and so preoccupied with their own call to nature, (looking good, finding a mate, producing offspring), that they don't spook as easily; simply because they're just too busy.  They're more worried about whether they've got their song right rather than what some gormless evolved primate is doing looking at them through a pair of binoculars.  It's also a great time to see birds behaving out of the ordinary, with many species having their own elaborate courtship rituals: from the theatrical weed dance of the Great Crested Grebe, to extreme free-falling Buzzards, locked at the talons!       

Finding a fellow feathered creature who is as 'twitterpated' as they are is half the battle, they also have to build suitable nests to breed the future generation, with every bird species having their own unique evolved skills-sets to achieve this, and resourcefulness is the common denominator.  

One of the most intricate nest builders is the Long Tailed Tit.  These little critters collect moss and lichen, only to then amazingly weave it all together using spider webs!  They then line the inside of the nest with the softest of feathers, insuring that it's nice and snug for junior.  

Ravens on the other hand - the largest of the corvid family - usually build their nests primarily with twigs, but a lot of them are mountain dwellers, living at an altitude high above the tree line, so using their resourceful nature, these gothic giant crows have even been know to construct their nests using… sheep bones!        

Some birds are notorious for building nests in the most bizarre places.  Blue tits for example have been know to use post boxes, and wren's particularly like a hanging basket.  There's even been a case where a song thrush and her young were nesting in the shell of a traffic light; they wisely chose the amber light - which brings a whole new meaning to the phrase 'amber-gambler'.  Then we have the basket weavers of the bird world, the Reed Warbler, who build their complex grass woven nests amongst the reed beds.  

Now, a sure sign that spring is truly here is the arrival of the cuckoo, who leaves their tropical Congo winter dwelling on a mighty 4,000 mile migration to the likes of Norfolk - talk about a culture shock.  For us the sound of a cuckoo is enchanting, but for our little Reed Warbler it potentially foretells of traumatic times ahead, if, the cuckoo can find their nest.  Because once located, and the unsuspecting warblers have momentarily left the nest unguarded, the cuckoo will seize the opportunity to boot out any eggs, lay its own in place - which cunningly have the same tones and patterns as a reed warblers - and leave the teeny-tiny honest birds to raise the discarded monster sized chick thinking it's their own; yeah, it's like 'Little Shop of Horrors' - "FEED ME!"

See all the bird designs at The DM Collection

Image © Daniel Mackie

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