Wild West Yorkshire nature diary
dunnock blackbird

The Secret Life of the Dunnock

Friday 28th April 2000
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dunnock on a rainy daydunnocks displaying A DUNNOCK is hopping around by the tub on the patio. It disappears into the hedge, just as a pair flies down at the other side of the lawn. The pair starts displaying. They both do wing-raising exercises on the spot. Then the leading bird (and I'm guessing this is the female) pops into the hedge, where I've just seen the single bird disappear.

If I've followed the action without missing any of the moves, I've probably just witnessed part of the complex love-life of this little brown bird. By colour-ringing individual birds, ornithologists discovered that the female dunnock, in addition to her regular mate, often has a 'satellite' male lurking at the edge of the territory.

white-tail blackbirds displaying 'White-tail' the Blackbird and his mate are nesting in the dense evergreen foliage of a garden shrub next door. He makes a bowing, beak-agape display to his mate and she joins in. I'm watching through a window so I can't tell whether there is any vocalisation involved. The display reminds me of John Travolta's disco-posing in Saturday Night Fever.

The red petals have fallen from the garden Tulips, leaving a plain-looking green column on top of which the seeds are starting to develop.

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

E-mail; 'richard@daelnet.co.uk'

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