Tag Archives: birds

Bird song: Chaffinch

The male Chaffinch is a strong singer, especially when he is trying to attract a mate. Resident here, he is easily spotted with his blue/grey cap and dark rusty red breast. As is the way with nature the female is a duller brown, but both birds feature the same white wing patches. I am yet to spot a deep-cupped Chaffinch nest, which they build in the fork of a tree. More often we see them sitting in the acacia tree outside our kitchen window, and it is their song which draws us to look out.

[photo: John Haslam]

After the bird moults in autumn, the tips of the new feathers have a buff fringe which adds a brown tone to its plumage. Over the winter, the ends of the feathers wear away and by the spring breeding season the birds are looking their best again as the brighter colours beneath are now on display.

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

5 to remember
un amigo – a mate
gris – duller [colour]
la ala – the wing
más a menudo – more often
la ventana de la cocina – the kitchen window

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Green Woodpecker
Blackcap
Cuckoo

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Do you recognize the song of the Chaffinch? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-22J

Bird song: Green Woodpecker

If you don’t like bugs, Green Woodpeckers are your best friend as they eat all types of insects and love ants. You probably hear a Green Woodpecker every day, we do, but don’t particularly recognize its call. It doesn’t ‘drum’ like other woodpeckers, and spends most of its time on the ground. Its green [on top] and yellow [beneath] colouring means it is often mistaken in flight for a female Golden Oriole. Its loud call is called ‘yaffling’ and gave its name to the wooden bookend Professor Yaffle in the children’s television series Bagpuss.

Listen to the Green Woodpecker’s song here at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
se confunde a menudo con – is often mistaken for
el colorante – the colouring
el profesor – the professor
en vuelo – in flight
el pupitre – the bookend

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Hoopoe
Mistle Thrush
Wren

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Do you recognize the song of the Green Woodpecker? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1ZE

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

[photo: RSPB]

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Green Woodpecker
Golden Oriole
Roller

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

[photo: RSPB]

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Blackcap
Stonechat
Blackbird

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

[photo: EagleDirectory.org]

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Red-Legged Partridge
Wren
Jay

 

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

[photo: RSPB]

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Mistle Thrush
Booted Eagle
Green Woodpecker

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