'Keep your hands off our feathered friends'
HAVE you ever thought where birds sleep at night?
Once the hours of daylight start to reduce many species start to flock up, roving around the countryside in search of food stuffs.
Members of the crow family, pigeons, and starlings form flocks of thousands. The one most people recognise are the murmurations of starlings before going to roost. Many other species also roost in smaller numbers.
Nights are among the times of day when they are most vulnerable from predators such as foxes, rats, owls, stoats and weasels. These are all natural predators that hunt for prey after dark commences.
Among small species, blue tits, sometimes up to 20, will find a crevice in a wall or building.
Wrens also roost in large numbers. Some years ago a dozen or more were observed utilising an old house martin’s nest cup.
I noted not long ago blue tits entering a small hole in a wall at dusk. The favourite haunt of sparrows is under the eaves of houses. The more these small birds can pack in the warmer they will be – common sense when you think about it.
Many birds will roost in dense bushes. Swallows, when on migration, will roost in reedbeds and also in cornfields in their hundreds.
Where do birds go when they die?
Most will find somewhere peaceful and quiet, sometimes in an old nest. Their bodies will soon be eaten by mammals or disintegrate very quickly, so any evidence soon disappears.
No doubt some readers will have seen gulls, waders (lapwings) stood in icy cold water you would think their feet would be freezing .
Why don’t they freeze? Well, very little blood gets to their feet, just sufficient to stop them freezing. So if you fancy going for a paddle in the Tees right now, you’d better get a bird’s circulation.
I recently read a report about that tiny mite of a bird the goldcrest being tame after migrating across the North Sea and landing near humans.
They are not tame, just absolutely exhausted. Common sense tells you that as in previous notes they are trapped in mist nets then subject to a full examination by humans.
The trapping of small migrant birds is surely just for human gratification.
As I have previously stated, it is a number game for ringers.
How do I come to this conclusion? They will say it is for scientific reasons but to date almost 700,000 goldcrests have been subjected to these acts of cruelty.
They must have sufficient information about them.
It amazes me that 4,000,000 blue tits have been ringed. The same scenario applies. The recovery of these small species is absolutely miniscule. Therefore it should be stopped.
All birds have an inborn fear of humans, not only the young taken from nest boxes etc, but the parent birds suffering great stress observing their fledglings being handled by humans. Anyone who denies this is a liar.
The practice is now a competition among the ringing fraternity.
I have met the people involved and they have boasted these facts to me.
To all bird lovers you will no doubt have seen photographs in the media of birds held in the hand.
Please bear in mind the stress that they are suffering.
Why should they suffer simply for the gratification of some people?
Dave Moore is a wildlife enthusiast from Hutton Magna