Garden Birdwatch

with Amanda Skull        

Welcome to this month’s Bird Watch.

I’m one of two volunteer Ambassadors for the British Trust for Ornithology’s (BTO) Garden BirdWatch Scheme in South Wales. Each month I introduce you to a bird or other animal that you might see in your garden.

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Bird of the Month: Woodpigeon

Most birds have finish-ed breeding by now but Woodpigeons are still in full-swing raising their second or third brood of the season (each clutch contains two eggs). Woodpigeons produce ‘crop milk’ for their young (similar in composition to mammalian milk) and are one of only a handful of birds to do this. The Woodpigeon has a round belly, grey upper parts and a pink breast, and is our largest pigeon. The white neck feathers below a petrol green patch aid identification, although young birds lack this plumage. When taking off in flight, the wings may make a clattering noise and you will be able to see their other distinguishing marking – white wing crescents. Woodpigeons are often seen in large flocks on farmers’ fields where they can cause economic damage to crops such as rapeseed; as a result they are often regarded as pests with large numbers being shot each year. Understandably, rural birds are wary of humans whilst their urban cousins are much bolder. The Woodpigeon may also be consider-ed a pest by many people who feed the birds due to its ability to clear the bird table of food – it can, after all, eat the same quantity of food as seven sparrows! It has a monotonous and repetitive call making it an easy one to learn – ‘coo cooo coo, coo-coo’, or as my dad taught me ‘my toe hurts cuck-oo’; a series of these calls is abruptly ended with one extra ‘oo’.

Did you know?

A Woodpigeon weighs about 450g, the equivalent of a flock of 41 Blue Tits! Woodpigeons do not have to lift their heads when drinking water. The Welsh name is Ysguthan.

How to attract them to your garden:

They will readily eat cheap seed mixes, as well as kitchen scraps such as bread, whether provided on the ground or bird tables. Woodpigeons are helpful cleaners as they ‘hoover’ up any spilt food from hanging feeders.

Conservation status:

Green (no cause for concern).

Garden BirdWatch data

show that fewer Welsh gardens are occupied by this particular bird than an average garden in Britain and Ireland.

Make Your Garden Count!

If you enjoy watching birds and other creatures in your garden, and want to help track their fortunes, then BTO Garden BirdWatch could be perfect for you. Please contact me for a free enquiry pack or to book a talk.

Happy Garden Bird Watching!

Amanda Skull, Garden BirdWatch Ambassador. Evenings and week-ends only: 07952 758293

gbw@hiafi.co.uk www.bto.org/gbw   Follow me on Twitter @amanda_skull

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