A cosy cradle of concrete

The birds fly down to the underground parking through this large opening, which is also used as the way out by the fledglings.

For a couple days, an adult male and a female black redstart have been flying down to my building’s underground parking with food in their beak. I investigated and found out they are nesting there. I am sure that these two birds are the parents of Apache, Spot and Ring, the friendly chicks that visited my feeding station for three weeks. Now that the parents are raising a new clutch, the fledglings from the first clutch are moving away from their birth site to make Continue reading

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A playground for black redstart chicks

Earlier this month, I came across a blog by the RSPB titled “Help wildlife feed the family this summer“, which encourages people to feed birds during the warm season and stresses the importance to help breeding pairs raise their chicks. On the other hand, another article highlighted the problems associated with feeding birds year round and particularly throughout the breeding season. I could not help wonder which is right as I recently, quite accidentally at first, started feeding birds at my window.

One evening, I threw leftover cereals over the small tiled roof that borders my attic window thinking birds would eat them. The next morning a group of grumpy-looking black redstarts stopped by for a snack.

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Chicks that can’t fly

Each spring the bird realm is enriched by new avian lives. Watching hatchlings grow into nestlings grow into fledglings is fascinating. Spectacular changes rush the newborns into adulthood, and before they can realize it, they are on their own. The young we sight are those who were lucky and strong enough to survive the harsh stages of their early existence. The toll of those who perish at the hand of natural or man-made evils goes mostly unnoticed.

During my short time observing breeding great and blue tits (a few nests in the springs of 2014-2015) I noticed a recurrent evil: some young’s unability to fly despite seemingly healthy, functional wings. It is absolutely normal for fledglings of many bird species to leave the nest before they can fly, a skill they acquire within days. However, when this unability persists, in stark contrast with the development of the rest of the brood, it becomes a disability and jeopardizes the chick’s survival.

Most great and blue tits I saw fledge could fly immediately or within a few hours from leaving the nest. Encountering individuals lacking this essential character 5, 7, even 10 days later therefore called my attention and I thought it worthwhile recording.


(1) LIVELY & HUNGRY / Bayreuth, Germany – June 2015

I was busy when the blue tit nestlings raised in a natural tree cavity next to my building fledged. From my window, I heard them Continue reading

A bow to the hard-working parents

By now, many breeding birds in Germany have seen their first clutch of the season fledge and grow to weaning age, a moment not all chicks are looking forward to. The many great tits born around my block from at least three different clutches are unwilling to embrace independence and claim it conspicuously. Parents can be seen escaping swarms of hungry juveniles, now master of flight, loudly and relentlessly gaping for food.

The young already know how to pick up food on their own but prefer it served on a plate beak, so much that they sometimes beg great tits other than their parents and even blue tits!

Parents are now cutting loose Continue reading

Return of the mystery bird

This post is related to: Guest of Honor (additional hawfinch photos)


Despite ranging extensively across Eurasia and north Africa and current population estimates reaching up to 5 millions for Europe alone, hawfinches (Coccothraustes coccothraustes) are commonly known to be shy, elusive and unobtrusive birds—they are sometimes called “mystery birds” for that reason. None of these qualities seem to apply to Continue reading

Embryo & shell

This common wood pigeon (Columba palumbus) and sibling did not make it past their embryo stage of development. The broken eggs were found this morning shortly after falling from the nest.

Eurasian jays may be to blame: these large birds are particularly active and efficient predators in the area. It is common to Continue reading