25 June 2007

Birds' nests and chicks

There are a lot of mature trees, hedges and climbing plants around our house and the sound of birdsong at the moment is wonderful.

Birds are building nests in the sheds, in the walls of the house and in the climbing plants on the terrace. This beautiful nest was in the Acacia just at the back of the house. I took the photograph yesterday, but couldn't quite get my balance to get a good shot of the chicks inside. So, today, equipped with a ladder, Fabrice climbed up and took this photograph.

We managed to identify the adult bird as a Chaffinch. (fringilla coelebs, Pinson des arbres in French)

Thanks to the internet, we've found out a great deal about this little bird and its beautiful nest. Here's an extract from a study done at the Department of Zoology, University of Glasgow. Glasgow. UK.

The chaffinch, Fringilla coelebs, is one of a large number of birds from many families that use silk in the construction of their nests. Thirty-eight chaffinch nests collected from around the UK were examined to determine the nature and role of silk in nest construction. A regular survey of web, retreat and cocoon silk availability was made at a study site close to Glasgow, Scotland, over a 12 month period. The only spider web silk found in the nests was of the type produced by cribellate spiders. The majority of silk in nests, however, was spider cocoons, but there was no correlation between the amount of cocoon and web silk used. Nests with more lichen decoration contained more silk, and cocoon silk was particularly associated with the attachment of lichen. Nest construction at the study site took place from late April to mid-May. When nest building began, the availability of suitable web silk had doubled from its winter (lowest) level; however, its abundance continued to rise sharply until the end of May. The possible influence of silk availability on the timing of chaffinch nesting is discussed.

Still on the subject of nests, we've had Goldfinches building one in the Wisteria on the terrace just at the back of the house for a couple of weeks. They were making lots of noise with their excited chatter, then all we've heard for a while has been the whirring of wings as they passed by our heads to feed their young. We didn't disturb them as they're shy little things, but today the noise stopped and they've flown the nest, so we went up to investigate.

Goldfinch nest with moss, lined with Angora goat hair and a few pig or wild boar hairs.The tiny little nest about eight centimetres wide is really well constructed from twigs, honeysuckle shoots and other, finer climbing plants woven into the trunk of the Wisteria.

There's moss round the outside, a few thick hairs either from our pig or from wild boar and like most of the birds' nests around our farm, the inside is lined with Angora goats' hair.


Karen said...

terrific photos Irene no wonder you have so many birds the word must of got out about the luxury building materials. Lawrence says encourage larger birds so you can sell the nests on as hats (sorry I'm only married to him)

Carolyn said...

Yes, fabulous photos. I found your blog via the TF site. We have angoras too, and are moving over to the Gers at the end of july with them and our Jacob sheep.

I love the fact that the mohair from our goats gets recycled into birds' nests. We've got numerous birds nesting in their barns and I could watch them for hours flitting back and forth with beaks full of fleece!

Larry said...

I love the photo of the birds in the nest.I like to put out nest building material each spring.

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