Avian relaxation

Following on from my last post when I mentioned the changes in behaviour of the local wildlife, since then there have been more birds relaxing in the garden. There have always been wood pigeons (Columba palumbus) round and about, and for several years they’ve nested in my plum tree in the front garden, but this year, in the absence of most of the normal human intrusion, they’ve been omnipresent. There are often at least two sitting atop the garden wall just relaxing,

49871188083_5601f155bd_cPreening wood pigeon on the garden wall

Growing on the garden wall is a wisteria, and you can see the purple flowers here. But what you can’t do is smell the flowers.


On a hot sunny day, for a couple of weeks in early May, the bracts of flowers, which are up to a metre long, fill the garden with the most intense and heavenly aroma. Interestingly though, the bees don’t seem to be that bothered by it, but I love it!

What I think are a pair of males have adopted a branch in the apple tree which they fight over – I assume they’re males, if they’re females I imagine they’d probably just take it easy and have a chat, but I guess it’s that time of year.

49872029342_e55e4a4386_cWoody wood pigeon perched on the ‘fighting branch’ – I can see why they like that particular spot

But a few days ago this one dropped down out the apple tree onto the grass and after lazily mooching about for a few minutes just hunkered down and did nothing for 20-30 minutes or so:

49930145537_6c4790cfeb_bCooling off on the ground, and obviously not afraid of the local cats

He wasn’t sufficiently relaxed to doze off like the dove in my last post and he stayed alert, but even so, I’ve never seen one do this before.


4 responses to “Avian relaxation

  1. I have thought about you a couple of times in the past weeks, Finn, as I have been reading “The Pergrine,” by J.A. Baker. His descriptions of what I can imagine might be your shared countryside,as well as the numbers and kinds of birds that he provides sounds something like your own backyard…especially with your present reference to the wood pigeons. It seems that those birds are a common meal for the falcons.

    And is that a Wisteria tree…? If so, it does have a beautiful aroma!

    • Hello Scott, great to hear from you! I wasn’t aware of that book but I’ve looked it up and it seems he is indeed describing my backyard. I live on the edge of the Fens in East Anglia where Baker tracked his peregrines, so it may well be describing similar places to ones I’ve posted on. Interestingly, the book is from the 1960’s when peregrines were extremely rare due to the then legal use of DDT. Since DDT was banned the populations of many birds of prey, including peregrines, have rebounded to the point where they can now be seen nesting on the colleges in Cambridge. It’s a remarkable story and it shows the devastation that agrochemicals can wreak, and how nature can bounce back when common sense eventually prevails! You’re right, wood pigeons are a common prey item for peregrines.

      And it is a wisteria in the background. The flowers are gone now, but they produced a heavenly aroma for a few weeks in May.

  2. We have wood pigeons here in NZ too, but they’re a different species (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae), the Maori name is kereru. And I’m sure that they are much larger than yours they absolutely love the fruit on our guava tree.

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