Archive for October 10, 2020

Garden Variety

Posted in Biographical, Maynooth with tags , , , on October 10, 2020 by telescoper

The modest investment I made in bird feeders when I moved into my new house in Maynooth has paid a considerable dividend in terms of entertainment. As well as a number of starlings and sparrows, I have quite a variety of more exotic species. The other morning, while I was drinking my coffee while looking into the garden before leaving for work, I saw a robin, a great tit, a blue tit, a chaffinch, and (I think) a hedge warbler*. And that was all just in the space of 10 minutes or so.

The show was then brought to a sudden end by the arrival of two jackdaws who scared everything else off and then tried to wreck the nut feeder.

I went outside and chased them away. I have nothing against the jackdaws – they’re actually rather amusing – but I won’t have vandalism in my garden.

The hedge warbler (or dunnock or hedge sparrow, although it’s not a sparrow) is not particularly rare in Ireland but is extremely shy and never gives you a long time to look at it. I’m pretty sure the bird I saw was one, though it was gone in a flash.

The local robin, by contrast, is not shy. I see him very frequently. I think it’s male because of the very bright red of his chest colour; females of the species tend to have colours that look slightly washed out. Male or female this one is very well nourished. In fact it’s so plump as to be almost spherical.

Anyway, all these birds (including the jackdaws) are passerine species, defined by the shape of their feet: they all have three toes pointing forward and one pointing backwards. The order Passeriformes includes perching birds of all kinds, from sparrows and finches to crows and a lot more besides. In fact over half the known bird species belong to this order.