Thursday, 20 June 2013

My winter bird garden



Taking photos of my birds

All photos are taken by me with my Cannon IXUS. You are welcome to use my pictures but please, when and if you do, do not pass them on as your own. Put my name Multicultural Gittie  on them with a reference to my blog. Thank you!

I started to feed the birds one winter because I felt sorry for my self. When I looked out I saw some poor hungry birds in the snow and I started to feel sorrier for them than for myself. Once I had gone down that road I was hocked. I do admit that I tend to spoil “my” birds so much that I think I'm now mentioned in Le guide rouge de Michelin for birds. Well, the award they give me makes me feel that way. I went from feeling sorry for the birds to feeding the birds to taking photos of birds. The more I learn about birds the more interested I get.

High above my garden a red kite hovers. She makes me happy every time I catch sight of her. Don't ask me why, I just feel happy and I just want to be up there with her. The older kites sometimes stay during winter but the younger ones migrat to the south of France. Wise decision in my opinion. You can go down to Falsterbo in the south of Sweden  late in autumn and if you are lucky you will see the large raptor migrations. A magnificent sight. Unfortunately they don't have a reliable time table you will need luck.

When the snow lies deep, it happens that a overwintering raptor attempts a loop around my elderberry tree, where I feed the small birds, in hope of catching a sparrow or two. Once one of my woodpeckers came close to being eaten .

I have a number of woodpeckers that come to my elderberry tree. If the food is low they come knocking on my window. Their favourite is also the butter balls. Something they don't love is each other. If they meet in or around the tree, they start fighting. It was in such a moment that it nearly went really bad. A sparrow hawk became aware of their fight and tried to take advantage of the situation. They did, however escape him this time.  I was kind of glad although I could feel bad for the sparrow hawk for missing his dinner.  I managed to get two of them in the same picture. One can tell them apart by their different markings The one who is eating is totally unaware of the other one at the moment.



People often get mixed up when it comes to sparrows.  Common sparrows in Sweden are the House Sparrow and the Tree Sparrow. The House Sparrow has a grey head and no cheek marks and this is why we call it a grey sparrow in Sweden. The Tree Sparrow has a brown head and a dark spot on its cheek. It's called the Willow Finch in Sweden. The  House Sparrow was the most common bird but it is decreasing rapidly. Here a Tree Sparrow and a House Sparrow in the same picture.

One day I spotted a Long-Tailed Tit in my elderberry tree.  I felt so happy and I ran in to get my camera, but when I came out it was nowhere to be seen. Standing there with my camera in my hand I spotted an odd bird in the tree. It looked a bit pale and well, a bit snotty nosed. I couldn’t quite fathom out what it was. The bird was shy and hid behind the branches but I managed to take some pictures of it and it turned out to be a female crossbill

Another sweet Tit in my garden is the Marsh Tit. In Sweden we call it a Juniper Tit. It's very like the Willow Tit but the Marsh Tit has a much smaller black bib under its chin. Marsh Tits love peanuts. Be were careful not to give them the salty peanuts because salt is very bad for them.

The Blue Tit is one of the most common bird in Sweden and yet it's my favourite among the small birds. After feeding them during the winter, they become almost tame. They fly in around my head and nags at me to hurry up. You can almost here them say: Hurry up we're so hungry. Favourite foods among Blue Tits are my home made butter balls with bird seeds and they don't say no to a little spaghetti with grated cheese either.


Not quite as tough as the Blue Tit is the Great Tit, but the Great Tit is a real clown.  They can sit on a branch and spin around and do tricks and they really seems to have fun. The Great Tits song has changed, probably to drown out the traffic noise. Great Tits seem to reduce in numbers. I don't really know what caused it.

 Another brave bird whom I love is the Nuthatch, he easily stays in the tree when I come and fill up their food supplies. When he has stuffed himself and filled his beak with seeds then he flies, almost always in the same direction, every time. Once when I stood and watched him he almost hit me when he flew off. I think he lives in the neighbour’s maple tree. I have seen two in the tree at the same time. I think they are a pair.  


A bird who appears in flocks during winter is the Yellowhammer... The mostly enjoy various seeds and prefer to eat on the ground or on a table where the seeds can be scattered. They are a bit larger than the Tree Sparrow. During winter the male and the female are similar in colours, but sometimes you can see a very yellow bird that almost looks like a parakeet in the flock. One would think that it could be a European Serin but it’s as large as the others so I think it's just variations within the flock. Not a very good picture but they are hard to photograph because the whole flock will fly away at the slightest movement.

Morning has broken, like the first morning. Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird / Lyrics by Eleanor Farjeon. The blackbird is a special bird. He looks so stunning with his black feathers and yellow beak. And he has a beautiful voice. The Blackbird is a nice guest at the bird table. A little apple or maybe some grapes and he will be grateful. The worst thing is that he likes to eat my grapes in the summer as well, but how can I get angry with him for that?

I don't discriminate when it comes to which birds may eat at my bird feeders. I love to see how the poor Magpie constantly feels compelled to steal. He probably often gets shooed away from bird tables and I think that's a shame. Magpies are friendly funny animals to deal with. So far, he is terrified every time he sees me. But he can not help but to have a look from behind the fence and see if I possibly forgot some food there. I don't think he really understands that the food I put out is for him. In the picture he has just been stuffing his beak with as much bread as he can get away with.

 When the Chaffinch starts showing up at the bird table I feel the winter depression loosing its grip. I can actually get really happy. It means that spring is coming. Some male Chaffinch do stay during winter but I never see them until very early spring. They usually find the dining table, but they always start with eating on the ground what other birds have dropped.

When the Starlings come you know spring is just around the corner.  Ok, you can still get some more snow and some starlings can also get the stupid idea to stay during winter, but when a flock of 15 Starlings turn up at the same time you know they have just flown in from some place warmer. Two such flocks came to me early in the spring and it was two very hungry birds. Problem was that the shops started to run out of bird seeds so I had to cook for them. Butter balls and spaghetti went like butter in the sun.

And there came a spring even after this dreadful winter. And now its summer and a wonderful summer it is. I'm starting to take pictures of all the summer gusting birds that make that amazing journey to the Nordic countries where the sun hardly sets and the food is great. I just stand here and say welcome to these amazing creatures