solitary brown bird eating seed from patio
No interactions present.
Or, as they will always be to me (because I never heard another name until I was in my 20s, and I know they aren't related), hedge sparrows, really are solitary birds. I hadn't noticed this until last winter when the weather was really bad. Even the robins reduced their belligerence towards one another a little, but there was never more than one dunnock feeding at any time.
I've been confused for a long time about house sparrows and hedge sparrows. On proper observation, the two birds are clearly different in behaviour, build, markings, and bill shape (as pointed out by Bob). But at a glance one often just sees the brown back. I was glad to learn that dunnock and hedge sparrow is one & same bird!
Looks like you could be suggesting that dunnocks are rather territorial, like robins . . . . Or are they somewhere in between, self-sufficient and unsociable (unlike the gregarious house sparrows) rather than aggressive towards other dunnocks? Are they rather few in number or does it just happen that a garden is a good size for a territory?
I actually thought I'd seen more than one dunnock in the garden at one time, but feeding at different stations. (I'm careful to give the birds more than one site in case the larger and more aggressive birds keep the shyer, smaller birds from feeding.)
Would you say that this is possible? I think that the dunnock is happy to peck around when house sparrows are there too, but I'll observe more carefully and see if I can let you know if I do really see multiple but separate dunnocks (if you see what I mean!).
If it really was eating seed, it wasn't a dunnock, which specialises in very small invertebrates, such as spiders and mites. Mind you, they will often peck around under bird tables feeding on the 'bugs' that are attracted to the left-over food. Did you notice the shape of its beak? All true seed-eaters have short stubby beaks like sparrows, whereas insectivores such as dunnocks and robins have longer thinner beaks.
Beak was definitely thin, so perhaps the dunnock was disappointed in not finding any 'bugs'!
There was a mixture of seeds, including some small black and red seeds that I could easily mistake for a small insect or spider, so maybe the dunnock was just trying its luck.
After the recent hard spell, would they not eat anything of the right size rather than keep looking for small spiders etc? Would the spiders & mites be expected to move around at this time of year in the cold, or are the birds looking for movement as a guide to what to feed on?
do u have an image?
Wild Flower Society member
Unfortunately I don't yet have a set-up where I can snap the birds well without disturbing them. Can you work with images that are taken through a double-glazed window?
The quality of the image does not really matter that much - it's surprising what the fuzziest image can tell you about the bird.
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