Breeding behaviour of garden birds.

One day last week I sat and watched a wren busily fly back and forth with beaks full of moss to build this nest in the eves of my front door.

I knew I would be safe to take a photo as once he had built this nest, he will be off to build many more (possibly 6-8) before showing a young lady round each personally designed pad. She will decide which she likes then line it with more moss and feathers before laying her eggs, all while he is off finding himself another lady for another nest. It's not unheard of for him to fill all nests with different ladies. She will incubate the eggs (while he is busy elsewhere) but then he has to help feed the broods. What a busy spring!! Here's hoping a lady approves of my doorway.

As well as the potential Wrens I also have Dunnocks and Robins nesting here. Dunnocks have an interesting breeding behaviour. The female will often mate with two males, this is a clever way of getting them both to feed the young thinking they are the father. Courtship starts with a lot of wing flapping and fanciful flirting, but by the time the second male comes along he pecks at the females back end to encourage her to reject the previous males sperm. I had a male Dunnock who would come to my kitchen window shouting and flapping every morning for a week while pecking the window in anger. I then realised he can see his reflection and is trying to chase off this (what he thinks) is another dominant male The female does give the boys a break while she exclusively builds the nest of twigs, moss and hair in dense shrubbery before both males start feeding the brood.

Robins are a lot less complicated, they pair up in spring for the whole season often having 3 broods. The female builds the nest of leaves, moss and hair near the ground and the male brings his lady extra food while she is nest building as part of their courtship. Robins are such nurturing parents it is not unknown for them to feed fledglings of other species. This is also because the only threat they find towards their nest is other Robins and do not have concerns over any other type of bird. I think knowing their breeding behaviour makes us love these common garden birds even more!

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