To expand my familys’ and friends’ basic knowledge of birds – a short summary of the main differences between tree sparrows (skovspurv) and house sparrow (gråspurv) – good luck!
Tree sparrow / skovspurv: Male and female are similar, and a tip to remember: both have been playing the the forest (think trees) and have “dirty cheeks”!
House Sparrow / Gråspurv: The male and female are different, but they have been playing indoors (in the house) and therefore have “clean cheeks”. (Det virker ikke så godt på Dansk!)
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.
Today as I was checking emails at home when I heard an unfamiliar tweet out in the garden. I took a careful look over my shoulder to reveal a small grayish white bird with a black head. This is the first time we have observed such a bird in our garden! I knew it could be one of two birds, which are very close to being identical. Both the marsh tit and the willow tit match this description, but thankfully there is an easy way to tell them apart – the noise they make. I did manage to grab the camera and get a few shots, but these flighty little birds are difficult!
A little later on Rasmus was out in the garden tending to my bike and this time two of these little balls of black and white feathers returned. They are surprisingly tame and in a very short time, made their presence known among the resident blue tits and great tits. Thankfully they made lots of noise, so I thought it would be easy to differentiate them. The BTO have produced a nice video to assist in identifying the two species (once they make some noise!). I quickly went to the BTO site and listened to the clips they have on-line. I identified them as marsh tits – which are common in Denmark in broad leaf woodlands (which we have nearby), but I will listen again over the next few days to make sure. Fingers crossed they come back, and bring their friends!
Later on we were also visited by a beautiful robin, but it was too late in the evening to get a good shot. Instead I will add more photos of blue tits – they are stunning little birds!