Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The nest build begins

Jack Frost is quaking in his boots… my Brunnera plant that is! For the last few days a female Blackbird has gone away with beakfuls of damp, root like material from around the crown of this plant. I am guessing this is the first layer of her nest. You can see her in the montage below looking like butter wouldn't melt.


You can also see a male Blackbird that was on guard duty when she was visiting too. Yep, it’s getting quite a battlefield out in the garden just now.! Much chasing is going on. It won’t get any quieter anytime soon either. She is getting chased by both females and males but just kept coming back again. This male was one of the ones seen chasing her.

Getting photos of the female with material in her beak has been tricky. I keep missing her. You can see just one strand in the montage above. I set up the camera outside on my tripod and let it record the area where she has been seen. Bingo… got her with a beakful!

Unfortunately, the bird soundtrack in the background wasn’t so lucky. Hardly any was recorded. In this instance, as the video clip is just over a minute, I have added background music. However, the music has been edited with a low volume so you may need to turn your speaker volume up if you want to hear it.



As regular readers will know, I have a blackbird nestbox in my garden. The female Blackbird that is gathering nesting material just now is not taking it there. She is doing something strange with it though.

Usually when birds collect material they instantly fly up and away with it… usually over my hedge. The Blackbird in the video above isn’t doing that. Each time she has a beakful of material she runs along the ground and disappears under my hedge. I don’t see her take flight at all. Perhaps she does so when she gets through the other side but this is quite unusual behaviour. I hope she isn’t building a low nest as cats do prowl along there.

So that’s a proper gardenwatch update for today. Elsewhere in the garden the crocuses are still looking great and the narcissi have good sized flower buds now. Oh… one final thing I am wondering if a hedgehog has taken a proper look inside my hedgehog house. There has been a good disturbance of the material now.

Had no sightings of hedgehogs out and about as yet but I make sure I’ve food out overnight just in case. However, I do know of a couple of blogs (HogBlog and Midmarsh Jottings) who are sharing hedgehog visits just now… both have video too! Great to see this again :-D

Both these gardens are quite South of mine in parts of England. I’d take a guess that they have already seen nesting material being collected there. Blackbirds could quite possibly have completed nests there too. It’s always fascinating to hear the differences around the UK and in other parts of the world.

Have you seen any nest building activity in your garden for this year?


The photos and video shown above were taken in my garden on March 23rd 2010.

13 comments:

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I hope the nest building doesn't damage the Brunnera. I cut my ornamental grasses last week and piled the material up near the compost bins. I don't know if I've had any takers yet, but there's plenty for any birds looking for building materials.

Southern Lady said...

I love, love, love the video! The music is perfect for it, and at times it is totally in sync. I have a mockingbird with a nest in my holly bush right beside my front porch. Both male and female get very aggitated when I walk by. They will just have to get used to that since it is located right beside my front walk. Carla

Liz said...

Hi Shirl,

Lovely photos and it’s great to see the nest building beginning.

I haven’t seen any signs myself, but that is no surprise as I never do. Last year when I cleared the Crocosmia the Starlings took advantage of the scraps left on the lawn, so I may do the same and see if the other birds use it.
However I have seen Blackbirds following each other, no doubt the male guarding the female as they’re definitely not fighting like they were in January/February.

Midmarsh John said...

Great piece of video. Here the pigeons are breaking off dead twigs to take up in the tall Leylandii.

Henry the Hedgehog isn't visiting every night but I did spot him early last night.

Midmarsh John said...

Forgot to say - thanks for the mention and link.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

What a great video! She sure gathered a lot of materials at a time. I was watching a pair of Bewick's wrens this morning. They have started a nest in a birdhouse but today just seemed to be hopping in and out and around it. I've also seen a pair of Chickadees that seem very interested in another birdhouse. The crows have been flying off with twigs for the nest they are building in a tree in the schoolyard. I love watching all of this activity. I almost caused my oldest daughter to be late for school I got so caught up watching the Wrens :)

Naturedigital said...

Good evening Shirl.. I like the photos of the blackbirds and the video also.. I have also posted something similar.. approximately a month earlier.. it is a post about blackbirds in my blog..(spring came earlier here) I am afraid my photographs are not as good as yours.. but i tried.. It looks like the females are doing all the hard work all the time. I saw where they were building their nest but did not dare go close.. as last year.. they had the nest in a low bush just outside the garden.. and some kids saw it.. they wanted to have a closer looked.. and kept doing it everyday.. until the birds left it for good with eggs already in it..
Have a nice day Costas

easygardener said...

I have had four male blackbirds and two females in my garden, all at the same time. There has been jousting and squabbling. I never realised they were so aggressive. I think they may have paired up by now so it has gone quiet - thank heavens!

HappyMouffetard said...

Lovely photos of the blackbirds. I mark my year with the song of the blackbird - once they stop singing in summer, I knw that winter is on its way.

shirl said...

Hi again MMD, Carla, Liz, John, Catherine, Costas, Denise and Happy :-)

MMD, I’m hoping so too! There are bits of ornamental grass and bamboo paper around the ground too. Good idea to put all yours in the one place. I do the same. It’s a fun time of year isn’t it :-D

Carla, Excellent!! Yes, I always look for the in sync parts when editing and that’s often how I choose the music. Thanks, great to hear about your nest. Funnily enough I’ve heard other bloggers mention the mockingbird nesting in porches too :-D

Liz, Thanks, I guess pre blog I never saw signs either… but then I wasn’t looking for them either ;-) Yes, I’d agree, the worst of the fights are over now. We saw one bird being injured by others a few weeks ago. Yes, leaving scarps of material around seems to be a good idea. I do that too :-D

John, Thank-you, I noticed you post with pics of that. I meant to mention that in my comment. Perhaps once the hedgehogs come out of hibernation they have some nights where they do nap all night long. I guess it will take a fair bit of energy waking up properly after so long. You are welcome for the link :-D

Catherine, Delighted you enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing what’s going on in your garden. It seems a very busy place at the moment. Lol at getting caught up watching nesting activity on a school day! I can imagine the pleas from your daughter too... been there myself. The camera in a nestbox is a real problem to step away from on a school day ;-)

Costas, excellent… I see you have been enjoying the singing of your Blackbirds. You got lots of photos too. Yes, it does appear that the female does the nest work. Aw, that’s a shame the nest last year was disturbed and the eggs left. I’d take a guess this might be more common than you’d think. You can also see why the children were interested in taking a closer look the first time. Pity they continued looking :-(

Denise, Sounds like the same numbers as here today. Yes, as Liz said above, last month they were even worse for aggression. I almost had a bit of a situation here where one bird was injured. It looked like it got pecked in the throat. I could see loss of feathers and a bloody cut. Two others (at the same time) absolutely hounded it. They were just short of working as a team. It was night time and I decided if I saw it again the next day I would try and catch it (don’t know how though) and call the SSPCA. I never saw it again :-(

Happy, Glad you enjoyed it. What a wonderful way to think of the year. Hope you’re still enjoying the crocuses :-D

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I'm hoping to see some nesting here soon too. I also cut my grasses and filled a hanging planter with the grass and yarn. When I brushed Lilly today I left the dog hair on the ground. Usually the sparrows get it for nesting material.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

House Sparrows are busily cramming the martin house full of grass etc weaving their nests.

The Northern Cardinals must be busy building because I only have seen the Males at the feeders now.

The American Robins are chasing about claimng territory and mates and should soon be building nests.

Don't you just love watching them. Such excitement in the garden.

shirl said...

Hi there Robin and Lisa :-)

Robin, It is a fun time in the garden isn’t it. Lots to see and plenty for you to get photos of too! It is great to think that part of Lily will make the soft lining of a bird’s nest and keep very young chicks warm :-D

Lisa, wow… what an excellent round up of birds with you. Yes, I definitely agree with you there. It is an exciting time in the garden and I do love to watch all that is going on :-D