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Many mouths to feed...

Bright warning colours are usually a sign that the creature is either likely to sting you or attempt to poison you. Such is the case with snakes, wasps, bees and even ladybirds. Their colours are a reminder that they ‘taste nasty’’ something predators soon learn from previous attempt at an easy meal.

It’s not surprising as ladybirds (these ones are 7 spotted ladybirds) produce a nasty smelling ‘reflex blood’ that contains toxins. Although some birds including swifts and swallows as well as this house sparrow, it would seem, are able to digest these beetles despite the insects best efforts.

Male sparrow bring some ladybirds to the nest

This male was feeding the third brood of fledglings from a nest behind the cladding on our office. They are an industrious species with an omnivorous diet of insects, seeds and vegetable matter. Both the male and female take turns at incubating the 2-5 eggs and the nestlings hatch within 2 weeks. The young leave the nest after another 2 weeks and are dependent on the parents, mainly the male bird, who continues to feed them. Meanwhile the female is already making plans for her next brood. These birds are monogamous often pairing for life and in the UK can breed in most months.

Although the population is around 5.5 million in the UK there has been a dramatic decline in the UK house sparrow population dropping by 71 per cent between 1977 and 2008.

Imogen has been doing her bit by keeping the bird feeders topped up with nuts. An activity the local sparrowhawk also takes advantage of when it visits the garden feeders looking out for an easy meal among the naive young sparrows eagerly feeding there. Its not just sparrows that have mouths to feed.


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