Trying to find enough shelter to keep warm and conserve energy without increasing the risk of attack is a juggling act for a small bird

The habits of roosting birds are diverse. It’s easy to notice the preparatory swirl of starlings, the goodnight call of a pheasant or the cacophonous communality of rooks. By contrast, sparrows, wrens and chaffinches seem to vanish at dusk. They secrete themselves away in dense foliage, cracks or crevices, and avoid drawing attention to their whereabouts.


Tonight, it was the hidden, intimate world of the house sparrows that I wanted to see. There was a likely spot where a clump of English ivy grew vigorously around the trunk of a poplar tree. Choosing the sheltered, downwind side, I shone the beam to just above head height and was rewarded with the sight of seven sparrows, midway along an ivy branch, tucked in among the leaves, feathers fluffed up.


It’s a juggling act: trying to find enough shelter to keep warm and conserve energy, without increasing the risk of attack. Too close to the trunk and there could be danger from a climbing rat or stoat, too far out on a limb and a tiny bird could be vulnerable to a sharp-eyed tawny owl. The branch acts as an intruder alarm; a motion sensor providing a split-second warning of oncoming danger.

read the full article here: Country Diary


related content