Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Dunnocks at my bird feeder


When I re-initiated my birding hobby, one of the first ideas to strike me was to have a bird feeder in my garden right above which is my window on the first floor. Technically its not much of a garden as I live with 3 other male housemates. However I doubted how effective a bird feeder would be in the garden as I had never ever witnessed a bird visit the garden even by mistake! not even a magpie or a gull! However, there was only one way to find out and I ventured forth and bought the cheapest feeder on the market and some mixed bird seeds. The only place I could find to hang the feeder was on a rose bush at the corner of the garden.
It was still winter when I hung out the feeder and the rains refused to go away and the winds refused to die down....miserable conditions for a bird to explore neven familiar territory, let alone new unexplored territory....and so the feeder hung out there for almost a month being lashed by the rain and the wind. When a sunny birdy day would happen, the birds refused to come anywhere near, not even to eat the seeds that the wind had succeeded in knocking onto the grass below. I almost gave up on it.

Then one day as I opened my door to check the feeder, something darted into the bushes! I instantly shut the door like nothing happened and went over to the window to watch unseen...and hey there was my first bird - a dunnock! Ever since I`ve been clicking away numerous pictures of it . The bird is a shy creature and will initially jump about within the adjoining hedge, before it finally sticks its head out and surveys the garden for quite a few minutes. It the jumps onto the rose bush and heads for the feeder and has an untidy meal, dropping almost as many seeds as it eats.
I put up pictures of the bird on Flickr forums for the experts and I was told that dunnocks usually dont feed off feeders as they are generally insect eaters. The same is mentioned on wikipedia too.
So let me take the honor of revealing to the birdwatching/bird feeding community proof of the dunnock feeding from a feeder. If the above pics dont whet your appetite, heres a video thrown in.

p.s the sound track which is a dunnock call has been added on.

As you can see from the video, I have since moved on and have upgraded from the feeder on a bush to a DIY feeding station.The frame was created out of a mop handle and some left over copper tubing. The hooks which hold the feeders are made from chopped off clothes hangers! And I`ve added a peanut feeder to attract finches as well. On advice from the flickr experts, I also bought two terracotta bowls, the smaller one which I use for placing bread crumbs and the larger one which serves as a bathing / drinking bowl.

Months have passed but my bird visitors seem almost static. The dunnock seems to have brought its mate along, and I`m yet to photograph the two of them together as only one of them comes onto the feeder at a time while the other one waits in the hedge.
Once I spied a magpie stop over and have a sip from the water bowl, and on another occasion a collared dove hovered over waiting for an opportunity to descend onto the feeding ground but was frightened away by noisy kids passing on the road. I did see a robin briefly and I was so excited that i made the mistake of opening my window to catch a snap of it. That scared it off and its never returned. A couple of starlings descended onto the garden a while ago but they ignored the feeder and the food completely.

I hope that as time goes by and one little bird whispers into other little birds ears, the word will spread and more birdies will visit my feeder. Until then I dream of the day when there will be finches and tits and robins and siskins and sparrows all competing for the food at my feeding station!

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