Under-rated birds

dunnock (3).JPG


While Lee is still in hospital and I haven’t had chance to get out much, I’ve been looking through some of our photographs we’ve taken over the past months.

This week I’d like to bring to you three very ordinary-looking birds, which people often don’t get excited about.  However, if you look at them closely they really are special.  The first one is the dunnock.

Often called the ‘hedge sparrow’, it is often mistaken for a sparrow, but in fact it is not.


It is often found shuffling around on the ground, but in spring it takes to the tree tops with a beautiful song.  This is where it differs from the sparrows, as it has a lovely sweet whistling song.

The male and female birds are both similar, and the blue-grey of its head and breast and its streaky back make it quite beautiful when you get up close.

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Next time you think you have a sparrow in your garden, take a closer look – it may be a dunnock!

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House sparrow female

The once very common house sparrow is also quite pretty when you look at it closely.  Sadly, house sparrows are in decline, and it’s important to provide food and homes for them if you can.  The male and female birds are different, the male having a black bib and mask between the eye and bill, with a grey crown and chestnut sides.


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House sparrow female

House sparrows are closely associated with people, and are often the commonest visitors to our gardens.

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House sparrow male and female

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House sparrow males

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Tree sparrows

The tree sparrow is not as widespread as the house sparrow, and is often found in colonies.  The ones we’ve seen and photographed were at Fairburn Ings (above) and Bempton Cliffs RSPB reserves.

tree sparrow (2).JPG

Tree sparrow

It has a lovely chestnut crown, cheeks and collar, with a white neck, black bib, and a black spot on its cheeks.  Like the dunnock, the male and female birds are similar.  Its voice is a “tek tek” sound in flight, or many calls similar to the house sparrow.

tree sparrow (3).JPG

Tree sparrow

This bird is not likely to be seen in gardens, and sadly, has suffered a more dramatic decline than the house sparrow.

On first appearance, these three birds look very ordinary and quite similar to each other, but on closer inspection they are quite different and really quite delightful, especially the song of the dunnock.  Dunnocks are still singing all over the place at the moment – see if you can spot one this week!


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