The weather has been thoroughly miserable, cold wet and sleety. Actually, we had quite a sprinkle of snow on Saturday, but it soon turned to rain. The birds have been ravenously hungry; clearing the feeders on the bird table as fast as I can fill them. When I go out of the back door the birds scatter to the adjacent bushes, watching me very carefully as I replenish the feeders with peanuts and fat balls. As soon as I am back in the house the tits are straight back to the bird table, darting in as fast as they can. Followed by the very greedy, very vocal ( a loud sort of “chit, chit, chit”) and the quite bossy little nuthatches. The only visitors who seem to be missing this year are out spotted woodpeckers. I have heard them but have not seen them in the garden this winter as yet.
The Nuthatch has a long pointed bill and short tail and it climbs up, down and around the tree trunk and branches using its powerful toes. They are very comical to watch climbing up and down and around the bird table.
The bird’s upper parts, wings, crown and nape are blue-grey and the underparts are orange-buff, changing red-brown on the flanks and towards the tail. Beneath the black eye stripe, which gives it a bandit-like appearance, is white. The bill is grey and the legs yellowish-brown. The Nuthatch feeds mainly on nuts and seeds, such as acorns and hazel nuts, in the autumn and winter, but insects, such as spiders and beetles in the summer. The Nuthatch feeds mainly on nuts and seeds, such as acorns and hazel nuts, in the autumn and winter, but insects, such as spiders and beetles in the summer. To nest the Nuthatch will either use a hole in a tree or wall, or take over an abandoned nest. The hole may be reduced in size by plastering it with mud. The nest is made from bark chips and dead leaves. I haven’t yet found a nest on the property, but you can hear them “chit, chit, chitting ” away throughout the summer, so they are nesting somewhere.
The sparrows are missing out a bit at the moment. When the chickens were roaming freely the sparrows flocked on the yard wall every morning, by the old pig sty, waiting for me to feed the poultry; getting a good feed of corn with the hens. Now, of course, I am feeding the hens inside. I do throw a bit of corn onto the yard, but as the chickens are not there it is like the sparrows have not noticed and it is usually a couple of resident blackbirds that clear up the scattered wheat. It is strange they rarely if ever come round to the back garden to the bird table – their territory is the farm building and the front of the house. They know their place . . . . .