When it’s the young ones who are boring


The recent spectacular thunderstorms and torrential rain seem to have done little to banish the amazing spell of fine weather, which is still going strong as I write.

Moth numbers on these humid evenings are becoming quite spectacular, especially around the new street lights recently installed in our road.

The old orange ones attracted nothing, but these extra bright ones seem to draw them in from miles around.

At the moment, our garden, like everyone else’s, is full of nondescript, brown birds of various sizes, with very dubious flying techniques.

Any foreign holidaymakers to this area must think that we have a very boring and similar range of wild birds.

This situation, however, is only temporary, as juvenile birds make up most of our garden visitors, while their more colourful parents keep a low profile for a few weeks, to allow them to moult.

During the nesting season, their plumage and general condition will have taken second place to the welfare of their offspring and now they take the opportunity of a plentiful food supply and lots of leafy cover to prepare body and soul for the coming winter.

It can be quite a challenge for bird watchers to try and identify these young birds, as in their first set of feathers brown seems to be the dominant colour.

General shape and size and method of feeding are probably better clues to identity.

For example, young robins are drab, brown-speckled things, but despite their lack of parental redbreasts, they can be identified by their characteristic round shape and spindly legs.

At this time of year, countless juvenile birds meet an untimely end, both by predators and on the roads.

Whilst there is little we can do to prevent the former, the road casualties can be cut down if a little care is exercised, at the wheel, particularly on country roads.

Young birds are much slower to react to oncoming vehicles and often fly off in the opposite direction to the one you might expect an adult bird to take.

Their flight is also more laboured and erratic, so escaping danger takes them a little longer.

Juvenile birds are often attracted to easy pickings, such as carrion or spilled grain on roads, so ease up if you see birds on the road ahead, and give them time to disperse safely.