Tag Archives: birds

Bird song: Stonechat

About the size of a robin, the stonechat is a pretty red-breasted bird which is resident here all year round. They like heath and moorland which explains why they are happy in the rough vegetation of our valley. There are various races, the one here is Saxicola Rubicola. Its call is easy to recognize, a sort of ‘chak’ which can sound a bit like two pebbles being clattered together. Hence its name, I guess. There is also a more territorial-sounding ‘krrrr’.

[Photo: Jose B Ruiz/BBC]

[Photo: Jose B Ruiz/BBC]

Listen to the Stonechat’s song here at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
de pecho rojo – red-breasted
son felices – they are happy
por lo tanto – hence/therefore
fácil de reconocer – easy to recognize
dos guijarros – two pebbles

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The Robin-like Stonechat in #Spain #birds via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Wb

The courtship of birds

We’re into spring now and are surrounded here by birds, getting it on, getting together, sizing each other up. How they do this depends on the bird.

[photo: Raymond Belhumeur]

[photo: Raymond Belhumeur]

Sparrows [above] chatter, fight, joust, with males dancing around the females, wings outspread, chirping loudly to demand attention. The male will follow a likely female, hopping, his wings quivering, occasionally leaping on top of her or pecking her, waiting for her acceptance. Meanwhile nest preparation is underway. The Sparrows which nest in the solar panels on the kitchen roof have already discarded old material from the nest, and are gathering new. The inside is coarse material such as leaves, twigs and straw, while the inside is lined with grass and feathers. Watch the courtship dance of the House Sparrow here.

[photo: Wikipedia]

[photo: Wikipedia]

Swallows [above] are monogamous and stay nearby throughout the year. They are already nest-making, returning to their old site, located in overhead locations somewhere sheltered from weather and predators. A new mud nest [below] starts with a splatter of mud on the wall, followed by the addition of straw, sometimes twigs or grass. swallow nest1Yesterday we were treated to a pair of eagles – it’s most likely they were Short-Toed Eagles, though I’m not 100% sure as they were over the neighbouring valley – hunting together, circling in wide loops away from each other then swooping very close as if sizing each other up, calling kee kee.

[photo: Wikipedia]

[photo: Wikipedia]

Watch the courtship of Short-Toed Eagles [above] in flight here.

5 to remember
el cortejo  – the courtship
monógamo – monogamous
un bucle de ancho – a wide loop
dando vueltas – circling
abalanzando/a – swooping

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The courtship of #birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1KS

Bird song: Great Spotted Woodpecker

There is no sound like that of a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming its beak against a tree trunk in search of insects, seeds, nuts, eggs, chicks and even small rodents. The family name for the bird is ‘Dendrocopus’ and is a combination of the Greek words ‘dendron’ [tree] and ‘kopos’ [striking]. That seems appropriate. Resident here, the male bird is like nothing else. You will find a nesting hole in an old tree, neat and round, bored horiztontally into decaying wood for a few inches and then downwards up to 6-12 inches in depth.

[photo: Wikipedia]

[photo: Wikipedia]

Listen to the drumming of the Great Spotted at the RSPB website here.

5 to remember
el pico – the beak
un pequeño roedor – a small rodent
griego/a – Greek
apropiado/a – appropriate
horizontalmente – horizontally

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
There’s nothing else like the sound of a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Ri

Bird song: Short-Toed Eagle

This is a rare Eagle and we feel privileged to see them in our valley during the summer. The Short-Toed Eagle is large and will spend hours flying, searching for prey. It eats snakes and its common name is actually the ‘Short-Toed Snake Eagle’. Pretty much always seen in flight, we only see its feathers from below. It has very pale underwings with dark bars and dots, with a dark head. If you see it hovering, wait for it to dive, at a great height and with great speed… pity the poor snake or lizard beneath.

[photo: Wikipedia]

[photo: Wikipedia]

It is generally silent, but does have a whistling call in flight. Listen to the song of the Short-Toed Eagle and read more about it at the Xeno-Canto website.

5 to remember
raro/a – rare
la presa – the prey
una serpiente – a snake
un lagarto – a lizard
casi siempre – pretty much always

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Privileged to see a short-toed eagle in the #secretvalley in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1IA

Bird song: Wren

That loud, trilling bird song which seems to dominate everything else, fast ringing notes, which must be coming from a bird the size of a Pigeon? That’ll be a Wren, one of Europe’s smallest birds measuring up to 4cm long. Ours hides in the bushes at the edge of the terrace, a rustle of leaves, the hint of a bright eye, is all that gives him away.

[photo: birdswrenmiketoms]

[photo: birdswrenmiketoms]

A resident here, the Wren is surprisingly beautiful in flight: warm chestnut brown in colour, with softly barred wing tips. The Wren is most easily identified by a) his size, and by his uplifted tail which gives him a jaunty, cocksure air.

Listen to the song of the Wren and read more about it at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
un wren – a Wren
la talla de – the size of
una paloma – a Pigeon
un crujido – a rustle
una pista – a hint

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A song much bigger than his size: the mighty wren #Spain #birds via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Iw

Bird song: Swallow

The Swallow is a bird so familiar that we stop looking at it, and if we do that we cease to see its beauty.

[photo: ar15.com]

[photo: ar15.com]

It is a brilliantly-coloured bird – a deep red chin, dark blue/black glossy backs – and long streamers leading from its tail. If it stays still long enough, you can admire the iridescence of its feathers. But this is a Swallow we are talking about and, in our valley, they are the most joyful birds in summer, swooping over the swimming pool to catch a drink. They absolutely love flying, they fly around the terrace, performing aerial manoeuvres fit for an air display, and all the time they are chirruping and twittering away. One of my favourite birds, and here in Andalucia they are resident all year.

Listen to the song of the Swallow and read more about it at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
una golondrina – a Swallow
tan familiar – so familiar
la barbilla – the chin
jubiloso/a – joyful
una maniobra aérea – an aerial manoeuvre

Bird song: Greenfinch

A flash of green and yellow goes by so quickly the colours merge and there is no time to identify the colourful passer-by: a Siskin, a pair of Goldfinches, a Serin? It is a Greenfinch. Resident all the year in Spain, the male’s summer plumage [below, top] is brilliant. The female [below, bottom] is disappointingly dull. Seen often in flocks, Greenfinches fly up together all of a rush. They are fast fliers, with quick bursts of speed and following an undulating path.

[photo: Wikipedia]

[photo: Wikipedia]

Listen to the song of the Greenfinch and read more about it at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
un Verderón – a Greenfinch
un resplandor – a flash
tan rapido – so quickly
unir – to merge
el plumaje – the plumage

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Greenfinch: a flash of green & yellow #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Iq