Think all's quiet? Think again!


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Think all's quiet? Think again!

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You might think that it’s the calm before the storm out there in your garden. That the blackbirds and robins are quietly going about their business in readiness for the upcoming breeding season. But, believe it or not, some birds will actually be putting the finishing touches to nests and settling down to lay eggs. Yes, really!Song thrush on a garden slab. Photo by Chris Gomersall (

Every month

There’s a few early starters you may find in your garden:

As well as being very territorial and chasing away any interloper, robins have actually been found nesting in every month of the year! Usually it’s from early March, but there’s no reason why you won’t spy your garden friend nesting right now. In fact, we've already had calls telling us about nest building.

Look out for song thrushes too. These speckle-breasted songsters also have a prolonged breeding season, and again have been found nesting in most months.

Keep an eye out for blackbirds. Now, like robins,  they start nesting in early March, but we've had reports of nest building and, incredibly, already having feathered chicks.

An urban thing?

It’s been suggested that perhaps it’s an urban thing, what with more hiding places, mainly in garden shrubs, and potentially warmer temperatures than the countryside. This is certainly the case for woodpigeons, with urban pigeons beginning to lay eggs in February. We've had news that their cousins, the much daintier collared doves, are already breeding. They can, in fact, breed all year round if the conditions are right.

Down at the park

Away from your garden, a trip down to your local parkland pond or reservoir may well result in spotting more birds on eggs.

Great-crested grebes can lay eggs anytime from mid-February and, in exceptional cases, even earlier! They build their nests from weeds and twigs, where they’ll hatch out 3-4 stripy youngsters. If not nest-building yet, look out for their elaborate, dancing courtship display.

Take a look in the trees too for a massive, untidy nest. This could well be the work of grey herons. I always think they look a bit ridiculous in trees, but this is where they choose to nest, safe from any ground predators. After laying their eggs during February, 25-26 days later three or more Mohican-hairstyled punks will hatch out. We've seen the herons repairing nests from our viewpoint in Verulamium Park, St. Albans. For the next two months we'll be showing you the goings on at the herony, so why not pay a visit if you're in the area?

What’s breeding in your garden?

Have you seen any evidence of early breeding? Is there a robin in your nestbox? Have you seen a heron sitting on a nest at your local park? Make a comment and let us know what you’ve seen and where you’ve seen it...

  • Blue tits busy flying in and out of nest boxes but no signs of building yet.

    Billy H. Cumbria.

  • Thanks again for all your comments people.

    This morning I saw a starling singing loudly from the rooftops opposite my house. He then preceded to check out the hole in the house which starlings (and swifts in 2009) have nested in previously. So it looks like there might be a family of squabbling starlings moving in across the road shortly.

  • Sunday morning Great Tit viewing box, then occupying then popping in and out for a few minutes, but not seen since!

  • Have had two young goldfinches feeding on niger seeds. They still haven't got their red markings.

  • We had a pair of Collared Doves mating on the top of a telegraph pole earlier this week.  Rather precarious!

  • Yep, the Robins are paired up, 4 male, and 4 female Blackies fighting over the raisins, Dunnocks singing too. One Wren, one Pied waggy, one Grey waggy, way too many Pigeons. and a few Collared Doves. I save loads on entertainment, I just look out of the windows. Isn't nature wonderful.

  • I have been watching a pair of robins building a nest in the ivy on my fence for the past week..that is the first time I have seen this happening..collared doves are pairing up ( 3 pairs so far ) and looks as though one will be nesting on my security light again!!!..have 3 pairs of blackbirds fighting for the right to be in my back garden..just cleaned out bird boxes and they had been used last time by blue tits..have a pair of those as well becoming more noticeable every day..for the first time there is a wren so hopefully that will use one of the boxes..cant garden may be small but have never had as many birds as this for years..

  • Over the last few weeks I have been watching a pair of bluetits flying in & out of my garden bird box. 1 flies in, the other sits on the fence & then they switch places.  No evidence of nesting yet though. Fingers crossed...

  • Ermie Derbyshire

    We have sparrows and blackbirds nesting, also collared doves paired up and happy!

  • Blue tits in and out of regularly used box for past week, and already seeing off any sparrows/goldfinches etc that land on the covering bush en-route to feeding stations. Magpies beginning to build nest in large tree at back of garden.

  • I have had a pair of Magpies nest building at the top of my hawthorn tree for the last week or so

  • Noticed 2 Robins coming to feeder then going into hedge in garden,on checking found robin sitting on  3 eggs in nest box. Also Blue Tit checking out boxes in the front wildlife garden

  • Blue tits sniffing at nesting box for last week here in North Yorks. Feeding nine Blackbirds  twice daily on oats & apples plus two collared doves--One Blackie showing interest in last years nest.. James

  • Just today I saw three woodpigeons doing courtship rituals (two males chasing and one displaying to a female). New home for us, got boxes up and hoping for breeding birds this year. Last week and within a day of us mounting the boxes, blue tits were exploring them.

  • We have a cock House Sparrow who has been gathering nesting material for the last couple of weeks.