Friday, 8 November 2013

Birds and sycamore aphids

Sycamore aphids, Drepanosiphum platanoidis, are Sycamore specialists - and cover your car with honeydew if you happen to park underneath. All adults are winged and sit evenly spaced under leaves. In the spring, sycamores come alive with the calls of hungry Blue Tit fledglings demanding food. It is an easy job for the adults to pick the aphids from under the leaves to feed the chicks (above). Although many leaves have fallen now, there are still some in the sycamores, peppered with the black spots of, Rhytisma acerinum, the tar spot fungus, and some aphids are still in them. In the last few weeks I have seen Great Tits and Chaffinches feeding on them. Today, I watched a chaffinch hovering under the leaves picking the aphids, a most beautiful sight, which unfortunately couldn't catch on my camera.


  1. The picture nicely captures the way young Blue Tits vibrate their wings when calling to be fed. There's a horizontal view of the same thing on my blog at
    Female tits also do this during courting, to ensure that their mates will bring them food when they are on the nest.

  2. Thank you for your kind comment Ralph. It is so tricky to capture the whole scene! you need the light coming through the leaves to see the aphids, but then the whole photo is too contrasted. The first time I saw the Blue tit female behaviour in early spring, fluttering wings and pleading calls I thought it was a very early nesting attempt. Great photos in your blow, thank you for the link!