Sunday, 19 April 2015

First juveniles of 2015

I looked out of the window early this morning and was greeted by two juvenile Woodpigeons that were sat in a tree in the garden. This is the third breeding season running that Woodpigeons have produced the first fledged juveniles I have recorded. They looked like they had been out of the nest for at least a week as their bills had already shrunk close to the adult shape.

Assuming they had left the nest around a week ago and allowing for a typical fledging period of 33-34 days and an incubation period of 17 days (BTO bird facts) the nest would have been built in early to mid February and the eggs laid in about the third week of that month. This is at the very early end of the species breeding season which more commonly starts in April. I have no idea where this pair nested although it was probably nearby but I am sure it was not in my garden.

I didn't get chance to take any photos this morning but one of them was back in the garden this afternoon and stayed around for a while, the other was sat in a tree just across the road. I didn't see the parents feed either of them while I was watching and the one I photographed did help itself to some emerging Rowan flowers. Later one of the juveniles followed an adult round the lawn and copied its feeding activity so they must be very close to being independent.

An early success for the 2015 breeding season.

Add your own caption. 'what are you looking at' is mine.

Eating an emerging Rowan flower.
Tree flowers are an important part of their diet at this time of year and the emerging flowers of Common Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) are frequently eaten. This is the first time I have seen Woodpigeon eating emerging Rowan flowers.

Feather management is really important for any bird from an early age.

A wing stretch to the right.

A wing stretch to the left.

.... and now both together. 

Proud parent.
This spring has been a strange stop start affair to say the least and despite a fairly mild winter seems to be quite late in terms of plant development. Trees are only coming into leaf quite slowly and are at a similar stage now to what they were in the very cold spring of 2013 which followed the extremely cold and snowy winter of 2012-13. I have come to this conclusion from comparing photographs of the same trees taken in different years (the Rowan in the photos above being an example) and this year is surprisingly late even though we have not had any prolonged spells of very cold weather. This is bound to have a knock on effect on insects and it will be interesting to see how this pans out over the breeding season. From what I have seen and read tits are nesting later this year than last and it remains to be seen if they have got their timing right.

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