Bird Behaviour


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Bird Behaviour

  • Greetings, Forumates!  This is a new thread for the discussion of bird behaviour.  Any behaviour of interest to you is welcome--any descriptions, facts, speculations, queries or whimsy.  I hope for lots of fascinating information but there are no bad questions; and even a bit of silliness is allowed amongst all the true facts. 

    Here is a start (wrongly posted on the Osprey chat thread a couple days ago):

    Birds which would ordinarily be prey species (Jackdaws, Feral Pigeons, Gulls of various sorts, ground nesting Geese, etc.) for birds of prey are occasionally found to be nesting near the nest of a bird of prey--Peregrines, Snowy Owls, etc.)  But the 'prey' birds are left alone by the birds of prey which fly further afield to hunt.  The prey species is effectively protected from other predators by the closeness of its nest to the bird of prey's nest.  How common is this, does anyone have more examples and what possible explanations are there?   Is the bird of prey holding the residents of the nearby nest in reserve as possible dinner should future weather or some other issue prevent it hunting farther away?  Or?

  • Interesting story about the "prey birds" choosing to nest close to one of their predators and the fact they were not targeted - method in their madness somewhere lol    Observing different bird behaviour is fascinating, reasons for, why and too many unknowns at the moment but I've made a start by googling the dopamine receptor D4 gene   LOL      I'll be watching this thread with interest Ann and if I have something to add on bird behaviour I will now know where to put it !

  • I'm sure I remember Monkeycheese saying there was a nest of feral pigeons above the Kingston peregrines.  Quite amazing!

  • Why does a Jay imitate the "mew" of a common buzzard I wonder (I can hear one of our Jays doing this at the moment) ....  why would it attract other corvids in who would harass a buzzard when that sound is heard  ?  !

  • The Peregrines cache food, so I should say that the Ferals in the nest are not in any danger (until they take to the skies). The corvids are the main threat to the squabs. The Ferals nest there all year round and the Peregrine box is fixed, so there might not be a symbiotic relationship here, simply convenient places to nest. Of course, I might be wrong...

  • Interesting idea for a thread, Ann.

    One piece of behaviour that I've found fascinating is the practice by some birds to deliberately put or allow ants on to their feathers. As you know ants give off formic acid and it's believed this may act as some sort of natural insecticide although nobody knows for sure.

    I've only captured this activity once on film as seen below.

    As you can see this was a juvenile Starling so I would speculate that this was instinctive behaviour rather than learned but that's just a guess.

  • Wow, nice Tony, I have never seen that before thanks for showing it.

  • that's such an interesting clip Tony watching the young Starling "anting"    I know the Jays also do this but never managed to capture it on camera.

    The only clip I have is when we had hailstone and the Crow seemed to be having a body scrub  lol


  • Not sure if this is the sort of thing you want Ann....

    This Sparrowhawk had just caught a Collared Dove when it got frightened off leaving a half dead Dove, so I had to go out and put the Dove to sleep which I then left on the lawn and within 5 minutes the Sparrowhawk was back for its catch.

    So if you see a Sparrowhawk leave its kill for any reason leave it where it is, it will come back for it.

  • That's a fascinating clip, Hazel. Never seen a bird doing that before. He certainly seemed to be enjoying it.

  • Nice capture Hazel, can’t say I have ever seen this either.

    I would have dispatched it too and left it just in case it did return Alan.

  • Interesting thread Ann, and some good videos already.   TJ's starling and Hazy's Jackdaw show behaviour that is not often seen.  

    Glad you were around to put the Dove out of it's misery Alan, and it shows that the memory of these birds is pretty good when the Sprawk returned to finish what it started.

  • We've been intrigued as to why crows harass (the much bigger) buzzards and why buzzards grumpily tolerate it rather than retaliating.

  • I had 2 male blackbirds come into our garden yesterday having a "scuffle",obviously over a female while I was putting some food out for the birds.

  • Thanks to Everyone who has contributed so far.  Please carry on and new posters are most welcome.  I'll just speculate freely here about some of the behaviour already described above (and you do the same, please!) in the hope that one or more of our resident experts in the community will chime in and set us straight!

    It was a discussion with Monkeycheese about the Pigeons nesting near the Kingston College Peregrines, Clare, which brought to mind a couple of other similar instances.  We've seen Jackdaws nesting only metres away from Peregrines in the same cliff faces in a couple of places along the lower River Wye. One cliff also had a Gull's nest below the Peregrine nest and in the short time we watched them, the adult Peregrines completely ignored the comings and goings of the other nesting birds.  Can't recall if I read it or if it was mentioned in a talk we heard, but it is thought that the Geese nesting near Snowy Owls in the Tundra benefit the Owls by noisily announcing the presence of any other predators.

    MC, If Corvids are the main problem for the Kingston Ferals, then siting their nest near the Peregrines would presumably help to deter the Corvids from bothering the Ferals.  Do Ferals have a noticeable warning call which might alert the Perries to the presence of possible predators of the Perry eggs and chicks?  I'm trying to work out how the Perries might benefit from this situation, aside from having potential dinner on hand!  Love the snap on the Kingston Peregrine thread of the Peregrine sitting on eggs with the Feral only a couple metres away!

    CRinger Here's the behaviour thread--I'm waiting for your thoughts about this prey and bird of prey subject!

    TJ, Love your video of the Starling anting!  Thanks for posting it.  I've never seen it but have heard about it many times.  I've only seen birds sunning themselves and have only seen that half a dozen times or so.

    Hazel, Regarding your Jays imitating Buzzard calls:  Jays are clever Corvids.  I wonder if imitating a Buzzard brings in other Jays and/or larger Corvids who might think they are about to help with chasing off a Buzzard (which may or may not exist!).  Does that give the imitator a chance to nick any food which the other Corvids have abandoned in their eagerness to chase off a Buzzard?!  (Just a bit more arm-waving speculation!)  And I love your video of the Crow bathing in a thin layer of hailstones on your lawn, Hazel!  How clever of it, to connect the hail with liquid water and conclude that it can bathe in it.

    Alan, Yes, your story is just the sort of thing needed here--any observation which catches your notice is what I hope for; it doesn't matter if it is something unique and dazzling or mundane and minute. I agree that it is best to leave any prey alone if you happen to frighten off a Sparrow Hawk.  We scared off a Sprawk from its Collared Dove lunch in a car park one day.  Going back half an hour later we found that the Dove was gone.  We presumed the Sprawk had come back for it--too heavy for a Cat to drag home and probably not taken by a Fox since it was mid-afternoon.  Had the dead Dove still been there at dusk we would have removed it so as not to attract Rats.

    IanMSpencer, Perhaps it is not worth it for the Buzzards to expend the energy required to bat off the Crows.  If it keeps flying they will eventually give up, presumably.

    Wren, I wonder if we might still have a few Scandinavian Blackbirds here and the locals are trying to drive them away.  

    Everyone, Apologies (if you got this far!) for the length of this post!