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Home > Bird Food Blog > Armchair Naturalist - Having a wash and brush up

Armchair Naturalist - Having a wash and brush up

Wednesday, 13th May 2020

In my recent blogs, I have been talking about the birds in my garden and particularly the feral pigeons. Here in Kent that has been very little rain during April up until the last few days and I was finding that the seed tray birdbath for the pigeons was having to be filled at least twice a day.
Clearly, they were not drinking that amount of water and watching them from the window it became obvious why the water was disappearing so fast. Some of the pigeons were having a very enthusiastic wash in the tray, bobbing their heads into the water and flapping their wings to flick water over their backs. After having a bath, and they seem to take it in turns, they then sit in the sunshine on the lawn to dry off, if it is a fairly warm and sunny day, or they sit on the greenhouse or the house roof. I guess this is a good idea on their part to make sure that their feathers are fit for flying again. Once the feathers are dry and they finish their sunbathing, they return to their normal activities of eating, flying around and sitting on the house roof.
 
Green house

Although I have another birdbath down my garden for the smaller birds, the starlings have also learnt to use the feral pigeons’ facility and come along and just sit on the rim of the tray and have a quick drink. During the warm sunny days, I mentioned that I have to fill the seed tray bird bath more than once a day and that is always part of my evening routine when I’m recharging the feeders for the next day. I wash the tray out and then fill it with water for the next morning. One evening I had clearly forgotten to fill it and the early morning birds were going across to it, leaving it very quickly and then others were going to look and coming away again. I imagined that they were thinking, “That’s strange, there is normally water in there.“ I soon realised there was no water left at all! I suppose this serves as a salutary reminder that if we do start providing facilities for nature, so in my case birdbaths and a variety of foods for different birds, we need to continue doing it as they will become reliant on our supplies. They give us immense pleasure and even more so during the current lockdown and as I’m dictating this blog, I am watching two house sparrows sitting in the holly bush outside the bedroom window and happily preening in the sunshine. The picture shows some pigeons sunbathing but is not a closeup shot as they would have flown off hearing me open the conservatory door.

Of course, you don’t need to use the birdbath to have a wash and brush up if it’s raining as you can always take a quick shower. Yesterday when we had some rain on and off, the pigeons were tending to sit in the rain and have their bath that way. I have seen them in the past sitting on the roof of my greenhouse with a wing outstretched to wash them during a shower and it’s quite a comical look.

I mentioned just now the sparrows and so I better give a quick update on them. They have been very busy over the last couple of weeks collecting nesting materials and this is continuing. They have been picking up more feathers and pieces of grass and small pieces of plant and taking them to their roost in the neighbour's roof. They’re still using their circuit round from my neighbour's roof to my fence, to my holly tree, to my flat roof, to the next fence and round to the cobnut and the small bird seed feeder. I’ve not seen any activity this week with the wood pigeons and assume that they have abandoned the idea of having a nest in the holly this year. There are still four of them about and they tend to be some of the last bird departures in the evening. The last ones to ‘go home’ generally seem to be the robins and the blackbirds who are hopping about on the lawn as dusk falls.

Written by Margaret Emmerson

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