−−− BY LINDA JENKINSON −−−

Many thanks to everyone who supported the Leeds Birdfair at Rodley Nature Reserve on 22nd June. I hope you enjoyed the wildlife events and activities and were able to find out more about the groups and organisations looking after the wildlife and green spaces of Leeds.  

Now that we’re past the longest day, you’ll notice a change in bird activity. Our gardens and woodlands have become much quieter. The few birds you hear singing will include our resident wren, robin, dunnock and blackbird and you may even hear the occasional fluty burst from a migrant blackcap. These species will be attempting a second, or even a third, brood but many of our garden and woodland birds only breed once each year. 

It is the male bird that sings and he does this initially to attract a female and also to tell other birds of the same species that he is holding a territory. Once the breeding season is over, there is no further need for those males to sing. 

■ Robin

After the equinox, the whole of a bird’s body changes. The sexual organs of both males and females shut down and shrivel up and all of their energy goes into making new feathers and laying down fat for the coming months. Instead of being out in the open, woodland birds become secretive and are difficult to see. To make things worse for us, but better for them, the tree canopy is dense and dark. They hunt for food in secrecy and only make small calls to each other. They will really appreciate having some extra food placed close to trees and shrubs to help them complete the moulting process. 

Over the coming weeks, an adult bird will replace all its feathers, most of which will have become worn and damaged through wear and tear; parasite build up and exposure to environmental conditions such as wind and UV light. Very soon they will emerge again looking splendid and pristine. 

See if you can see any birds with worn feathers or perhaps you will find feathers on the ground when you take your walk. You’ll be able to hear lots of squeaky calls from fledgling birds while you’re out. These often group together to form feeding parties and will stay together throughout the autumn and winter. Watch them learning how to use your garden feeders. Young blue tits and great tits will have yellow faces where adults normally show white. There will be a lot more birds looking for food over the next few weeks and your feeders will empty very quickly. Please remember to put water out too to help them look after their feathers. 

Linda Jenkinson teaches people about birds in and around Leeds. For details of classes email linda@startbirding.co.uk or call
07778 768719. Visit www.startbirding.co.uk or Start Birding on Facebook and Twitter 

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