Fifty shades of grey...
Although many people will give it a poor review, sometimes something that is grey on the outside can be more interesting and more colourful than you may think. The attire of a pigeon can, on first impression appear rather drab. Closer inspection of these birds reveals a whole rainbow of colour blends and mixes. It may surprise you how vibrant these 'grey' birds really are. The vibrancy doesn't stop there. The world through a pigeons eyes enters a whole new level of flamboyance and psychedelia... They are able to see in five different colour spectrums and ultra violet (UV) is of great importance if you are a pigeon aiding them in both partner selection and in finding food. A male woodpigeon and a big juicy cabbage glow in the UV spectrum. For this very reason, wood pigeons have a bit of a penchant for oil seed rape and can cause considerable damage to crops. Shooting pigeons can be effective on a local scale but has no real impact on a bird that has been recorded breeding in every month of the year. Despite the fact that the wood pigeon is a successful and numerous bird their distant relatives are the Passenger pigeon and the Dodo and we all know what happened to them! Alternative names for the Wood pigeon include the Culver, Cushat, Cushy-do, Ringdow, Ring dove, Quist, Woody, Squab, Squeaker plus many others if you are a farmer or a veg grower. The genus name Columba is the Latin word meaning "pigeon, dove", whose older etymology comes from the Ancient Greek (kolumbos), "a diver", referring to the birds territorial display flight where they rise up on a few wing claps followed by an arching dive all to impress a female. Once paired, they can be very 'lovey dovey', mutual preening, kissing, regurgitating food for each other and sharing incubation duties. They suck too! Pigeons are a unique family of birds that can suck up water when they drink, where most birds 'sip and tip' their heads back.
Pigeons and doves are probably my favourite group of birds. They have broken records, helped win wars and have a closer connection to Humans than many of us realise. These 'flying rats' are intelligent, charming and colourful. Not really grey at all.
Although owls have binocular vision, their forward-facing eyes cannot move in their sockets, so they must turn their heads instead. Like other owls, tawny owl can famously turn their head through 270 degrees and are able to look behind them.
Tawny owl - Not wild - 📸 1/250 f8 Iso 500
So glad to see the return of the Long Tailed Tits. Been quite a while since they were last here, I last saw one in February. Listen out for the high pitched whistle that announces they are around. It's very unique and unmistakable.
Long-tailed tit. (Aegithalos Caudatus). So named for a tail longer than its body, the tiny long-tailed tit is a delightful visitor to any garden. These highly gregarious birds are a visual treat with their black, white and pinkish plumage, red eye rings and small black beaks.
DID YOU KNOW ??? Long-tailed tits live short lives of only 2 to 3 years.
The Long-tailed tit is one of the smallest garden birds in the UK. If not for its extensively long tail, the most characteristic part of the bird, it would be tiny and measure just 6cm in length.
Long-tailed tits have one of the highest nest failure rates among garden bird species. However, despite this disconcerting fact, it is interesting to observe that Long-tailed tits have a habit of not re-nesting. Instead, they will become what are known as “Helpers”; supporters of a nest or other pair of birds, a behaviour known as co-operative breeding. (Approximately 50% of nests have one or more helpers). This altruistic behaviour pertains to a fitness advantage, particularly if it is related to offspring that is supported by the helper. In a future scenario, the helper can use its experience supporting a particular nest for its own offspring in the next season.