A Bird's Eye View of Bute

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A very common bird to appear in our gardens is the Blackbird. This is one of the more commoner birds that frequent our gardens in all seasons, and there could be a few feeding at the same time as they seem to be able to live in harmony compared to some species. They are as their name- Blackbirds, at least the males are, and he has a bright yellow/orange bill and a yellow eye ring but the female is more of a brown bird with a bit of speckling on her chest and her bill is not near as bright as the male's.

The best place to see them in great numbers are in the woods, where up to as many as fifteen have I seen many times searching under dead leaves for their summer food which consists of insects, and in the winter they will feed on berries that are still on the trees and bushes. If you observe them feeding, then you will notice that they appear to be listening for their food. this is not so, it is because their eyes cannot swivel forwards like the starling, they have to turn their head to see what the are looking for. If they find a worm they will pull it out of the ground slowly so as not to break it, as that could mean a great part of the worm being left under the ground,and that would could be a big loss. As we have not had any great rainfall for quite a while now the worms are deep down in the ground, taking them off the breakfast list for many birds and mammals, and they will not surface again until the rain appears. This is why we observe birds running around our gardens and sometimes stamping on the ground, thus imitating rainfall and hoping that the worms will be enticed back to the top. They may have a long wait as the ground is very dry and it will take a while for any rain to reach down any distance. All the birds can hope for at the moment is for any emerging insects that have hatched out.

Their call is a rich fluty song which would be given from a high vantage point like the top of a tree or t.v. ariel. Their song consists of loud clear notes which the combine to make phrases which will last for several seconds, then a pause and off they go again. I love it when they land on a tree or ground, they dip their wings and raise their tail making them look very aggressive and in control of any situation.Their nest is built low down in a hedge or small tree and sometimes in buildings and consists of mud and moss lined with grass, and the lay 3-5 bluish- green speckled brown eggs. They are members of the Thrush family, and the nearest one that looks like them is the Ring Ouzel. This bird spends the winter in the Mediterranean and spends the summer high up in the Scottish hills and wild open country. They are that like the blackbird that they are called "The Mountain Blackbird". The biggest difference is that they have a ring of white on their chest which is only obvious on adult males. The chances of seeing one are very slim, but as they head north to our hills there is always that chance that they will stop for food.

Norrie Mulholland
First published in 'The Buteman'
Copyright © Text and photographs, Norrie Mulholland

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