Saturday, 19 October 2013

Thrushes and whitebeam berries

Whitebeams, a tree related to the rowan, is fruiting now. They have contrasting good and bad years in fruiting (masting trees), and the fruits do not last long, becoming brown and shriveled in about a month from ripening, but berries are large fruits with a lot of pulp compared to the seed content, so they are very rewarding food when available.
Woodpigeons and Crows like the fruit, and so do all thrushes, but they are too large for Robins, Blackcaps and Starlings. They are also eaten (pecked as opposed to eaten whole) or their seeds predated by Blue Tits, Chaffinches and Greenfinches.
 In my local park yesterday, there was a strong contrast between the colour of the fruits of a line of whitebeams. One of them had the brightest red berries, and Woodpigeons and Blackbirds were feeding on it. Note the bulging crop of the Blackbird in the photo above.
 Two trees at the other end of the line had still many unripe berries and as a flock of mixed finches and tits, including goldfinches, chaffinches and great and blue tits descended on it. Suddenly, it became apparent this tree had an owner. A Mistle Thrush started churring vigorously from its centre, while flicking its wings and tail. It seems to make little impact on the little birds, although it kept going for quite a while.
Woodpigeon feeding amongst the berries
Mistle thrush on guard.

And the very nervous one in this short clip.

More information
Snow, B. K., & Snow, D. (2011). Birds and berries. A&C Black. In Google Books.

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