Dear Readers, I have long been a fan of the Crossley ID Guide to the Birds of Britain and Ireland, and, with the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch coming up next weekend I thought I would invite you to try your hand at identifying the bird from the description in the guide. I find that this book, co-authored by Richard Crossley and Dominic Couzens, has a gift for summing up a bird in just a sentence, so this week what I’d like you to have a bash at is simply matching the photo of the bird to the description, with a bonus point for identifying the species. All the birds are ones that you might, if you’re lucky, see in your garden.
As usual, you have until 5 p.m. UK time on Friday (28th January) to put your answers in the comments. I will disappear them as soon as I see them, but write your answers down first if you’re easily influenced (like me). I will post the answers next Saturday (29th January).
So, if you think that description 1) relates to the bird in Photo A, and that the bird featured is a flamingo, your answer is 1) A) Flamingo (though I think that a visit to Spec Savers might be a good idea).
- Compensates for size by noisy and overwrought personality. Unexpectedly loud song explodes from near ground level, a hurried jumble of sweet liquid notes, including a jarring trill mid-phrase, overall like excitable commentator enthusing over finish of race.
- Has a red-hot sex life in which both males and females may hold multiple mates, with fractious consequences.
- Parents feed large broods (average 10+) for 2 weeks, making 1000 visits a day carrying caterpillars.
- Cheerful chiming song, a much varying repetition of two notes TEEcher, TEEcher, can be heard everywhere from late Dec until May.
- Very common mite of woodland and scrub, now increasingly visiting gardens, where it feeds from hanging feeders. Bands of 5-10 relatives spend autumn and winter patrolling large territory, where individuals feed in branches for just a few moments before moving on to the next tree, one after another, always restlessly passing through.
- Forages on lawns or fields for worms, standing still for a few moments, then making scampering runs forward to grab prey, or stand watchful again: may also make 2-footed hops forward.
- Makes monotonous 3-note cooing in rhythm of football chant U-NIII-ted; also calls after alighting, a curious mewing with tone of party trumpet.
- Flight display in straight line: bird rises with wing flaps, stalls as if shot, glides down. When landing, raises tail and slowly drops it.
- Astonishingly aggressive: spats routine, killing regular.
- Usually seen adorning thistle-heads, where it can perch horizontal, hold onto the side or hang upside down, often fluttering its wings for balance.