If somehow I fell asleep and woke not knowing what day, or month it was, it would be difficult to tell it is the start of January, according to the birds anyway! Over the last few days, I have witnessed some pre-breeding behavior which I wouldn’t have expected for at least another month or two! Firstly, bird song! I had heard from a “bird guru” that the birds start to sing, once the days begin to get longer, so after the winter solstice. With this information in hand, I kept an ear out in December. Personally I hadn’t noticed anything before Christmas, but in the last 3-4 days, a few early starters have started making some noise.
A local robin, visiting our garden for food.
On a few occasions I have heard the resident great tits (musvit) singing from the trees near by with the characteristic “teacher-teacher” song. Then this morning I heard my first robin (rødhals) singing sweetly too, a more melancholic varying tune.
Late winter or early spring is the perfect time of year for developing an interest in bird song. You won’t be bombarded by many different calls all at once, and with the bare winter trees and shrubs, there is a high chance you will get a good view of the feathered friend while he is singing. Also you will only be listening to our resident birds, as the migrants haven’t arrived from warmer countries yet.
This year I am planning on organizing an “introduction to bird song” walk at the local university (close to my home). It’s something I have wanted to do for a long time. It will force me to polish up my bird song ID skills and it will help refresh some of my teaching skills, which have been lying dormant for a few years now!
Egg-citing times last year in the nest box, lets hope for more breeding success this year too!
But apart from the singing, yesterday I spotted another promising sign. We have a bird box in our garden, which we were lucky enough to have not one, but two pairs of small birds nest in last year. Birds use boxes during the winter also, especially on colder night for shelter and to sleep in. Our box was cleared out in the autumn last year, and recently I noticed some droppings in it, so I am happy to know it’s still being used. But to my surprise, yesterday I spotted a blue tit (blåmejse) inspecting the nest box. Last year before any nest building began, the birds spent quite some time inspecting our box. This involved many trips in and out of the box and perching at the entrance, pecking endlessly at the sides. The responsible parents need to ensure they choose the right home for their nest, especially if they only produce one brood.
Although we are still in the middle of winter here in Denmark, it is refreshing to see some early signs of what the spring and summer will bring!
Let me know what you have spotted in your garden or elsewhere!