Birds seen in Lapunmäki Area in August 2009
BIRDS SEEN IN LAPUNMÄKI AREA IN AUGUST 2009
If you like birds, it is worth keeping your eyes open when you come to school. As there are many trees and bushes in the school area offering food and shelter to birds, it is possible to see several different bird species there. In the summer the number of species naturally is bigger as many insect-eating birds that only come here for the summer are around. In August 2009 I have spotted here three species of summer visitors that migrate to Africa for winter: swallow, pied wagtail and willow warbler. Other species I have seen near the school in August are magpie, sparrow, great tit, blue tit, willow tit, greenfinch and siskin.
Swallows fly sometimes low, sometimes higher depending where the insects are. They catch their food in the air. It is nice to watch them and admire their incredibly skilful flying. Swallows can be told apart from house martins by their long, forked tails and black backs (house martins have white rumps) and rusty red throats. Their chirping song can be heard all through the summer either on flight or while they sit on overhead electric powerlines.
Pied wagtails, in their turn, run on the ground after insects that can be caught near ground level. They look very elegant with their black, white and grey plumage. Wagtails are lively little birds wagging their tails most of the time. They also like to run into puddles of water after rain and have a bath.
Willow warblers may be a bit harder to spot than swallows or wagtails. Even though the willow warbler is the commonest bird species in Finland, many people seldom see them because they are small and quite unnoticeable. Their plumage is greyish brown on top and pale off-white underneath. They like to find insects between the foliage of trees and bushes, so they are often hidden from view. Sometimes they come into open view but they move very quickly, so they don’t stay long in the same place. However, August is a good time if you want to see willow warblers as then young warblers often come to gardens to find food. They are also more easily seen than old ones because their underparts are more yellow.
Some birds stay in Finland all year round. Sparrows and magpies, for example, are familiar to everyone. Sparrows are not as common anymore as they used to be some years ago, but you can still see them in many places, in town centres or even near country houses, always where there are people nearby. Sparrows are not forest birds. The school area also has its own flock of sparrows, which have settled and made their home here. At times the sparrows come on to the grass to find seeds, sometimes they hide in the hedges. Next time you see a sparrow, look carefully, for sparrows are far from being grey and homely. In fact they are quite beautiful birds with black, grey and different shades of brown on their plumage. Even though they can’t sing they have a sweet chirping voice that is easy to recognize.
Magpies, on the other hand, cannot boast with a sweet voice, but they are very beautiful birds, too. Actually they look almost exotic with their long tails and shiny blue and green on their plumage. They also like to live in towns or near country houses, for they can find food easily where people live. Magpies, like all their close relatives (crows, ravens etc,) are intelligent birds. They eat anything that is edible, be it meat, fish or vegetables or insects or seeds. Once I even saw a magpie snatching a big vole! Magpies, like other birds belonging to the crow family, are useful because they keep the environment clean by eating animal carcasses and waste. They might be irritating sometimes because of their rough laughing voice and because they can break rubbish bags and spread rubbish around in search of food, but they, too, have their place in nature. At least they can delight our eyes with their beauty if nothing else.
Also most tits stay in Finland in winter because people feed them and so it is easier for them to survive. In summer they eat insects but in winter they turn to seeds, which are available at feeders in gardens. Tits usually move around in flocks after the young have left their nests. Often there are several species in the flocks. Also treecreepers and goldcrests can join them in the forest. Tits are curious birds and like to come and see what is happening. Because they are pretty little birds and not very shy most people like them. Great tit is the biggest of tit species and probably the most well-known. Nearly everyone knows their simple but cheerful song. Blue tits are much smaller but at least as energetic, easy to recognize by the blue patch on top of their heads. Willow tits are very brave, sometimes letting people very close before they fly away. They are black, white and grey in colour and also like to come to eat seed from feeders in winter. Other common tit species are crested tits and coal tits, but they prefer forests and come to gardens only if there is a forest or at least many trees nearby.
Greenfinches and siskins are seed eaters and live in flocks. Most siskins migrate in the autumn but most greenfinches stay in Finland in winter. Feeding has clearly increased the number of greenfinches that stay for winter, and at the same time the number of the whole population has gone up considerably. Sunflower seeds are a treat to greenfinches. If you happen to have a flock of them nearby when you start feeding birds in autumn you can be sure the seeds will soon disappear from your feeder. In summer both bird species eat what seeds they can find in the wild. One thing they like a lot is dandelion seeds. It’s amusing to watch them eating dandelion seeds so fast that the white fluffy bits fly around. Some people find it hard to tell greenfinches and siskins apart but it is not difficult if you can see the birds clearly. Both are partly greenish yellow in colour, adult males brighter than females and young. Greenfinches have a characteristic yellow marking on their wings. Young greenfinches are greyish brown and have little yellow colour. Still, their beaks are thick as is fit for seed eaters, just as adults have too. Siskins are much smaller than greenfinches. They have yellow stripes on their wings and males have black heads. Young siskins are duller and less yellow than adults and they are streaked underneath.
Photos of birds: www.lintukuva.fi
Toimittaja(t): Marjut Lipka
Luotu: 31.8.2009 09:13
Muokattu: 31.8.2009 09:15