Protection Rackets

A few weeks ago when we had red berries in our garden and Redwings were in town after them, I noticed that our local Blackbirds appeared to be getting aggressive trying to chase the Redwings away. Since then, the red berries and Redwings have gone but the Blackbirds started taking up station around the peanut and sunflower seed feeders (standing on the squirrel baffles beneath them) and seemed to be trying to hog those instead. I was particularly pleased this week when the BBC’s Snow Watch programme confirmed my observations and singled out Blackbirds as becoming a little protective of food sources in these harsh conditions.

Threatening Great Tit. Great Tits can be aggressive, too, and have an interesting threat posture, wings and tail flared, which doesn’t seem to be weather dependent. We are quite used to seeing them bullying Blue Tits and Coal Tits, most other birds on our feeders actually, even in the summer.

Since our weather continues to be particularly uninspiring I once again stayed home and trained both our cameras on two different feeders to see what I could snap. I was after Coal Tits to fulfil a commission (from Rosemary 😉 ) but they are fast little perishers and quick reactions are necessary – quicker than mine usually are, it seems. Undeterred I set up and began clicking away. While I was mostly missing my intended quarry, a Great Tit landed on one feeder and dutifully adopted its classic threat posture. The little darling was even obligingly facing the camera. He really looked quite splendid with his bright yellow waistcoat.

Male Chaffinch feeding on the wing Coal Tit showing head markings nicely Coal TitThreats aside, I did manage to fill my commission and snapped a Coal Tit or two before they made good their escape. A couple of shots showing their distinctive white flash at the back of the head and neck are on the left. Just for fun, on the right is an arty (i.e. blurry) shot of a male Chaffinch grabbing a sunflower seed whilst on the wing, too. Show off!

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