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Birds

Jock knows heaps about birds and he’s got lots of fun facts about them. Help yourself to find out as much as you want about his feathered friends!

Note: During this COVID-19 period the toilets may be closed at Bennachie Visitor Centre or Rowantree car park. That’s why we are not actively encouraging you to visit Bennachie, and why our resources and activities are suitable for woodland, parks or even your garden.

Information and Activities

What are Birds?

This may seem a daft question, after all we all see birds every day, but what is it about an animal that makes it a bird? Why not explore the BBC's Bite Size topic 'What are birds?' and learn more.

Many male and female birds look the same to us, but there are some you can tell apart.

Keep your eyes peeled when you are out and about and see if you can tell the boys from the girls!


Fun Activity: Why not build a bird bath and see what birds visit? Follow our simple instructions (Bird Bath Activity Worksheet) to get started.

About Baby Birds (Fledglings)

When baby birds leave the nest they are called fledglings. From April-early Autumn, parks, gardens and woodland are filled with the cheeps and flapping wings of hungry baby birds saying, feed me, feed me to their parents. Have a look at the Wildlife Watch's Baby Bird Detective worksheet. Have you seen any of these?

Visit the Woodland Trust to find out more https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/

How Do Baby Birds Hatch?

Once a bird hatches from its egg it is called a nestling. To learn more about how a bird hatches visit https://www.dkfindout.com/

If you’re out walking in the woods listen up for baby great spotted woodpeckers, they’re really hungry and they’re really noisy! The parents never stop bringing them yummy snacks

Speaking about lunch, what do birds eat? Well that depends on the bird and the time of year. Some eat seeds, berries, fruit, insects, other birds eggs, small mammals, fish, buds, larvae, acorns and other nuts, grain, dead animals and much more...

Different types of birds have different beaks so they can eat certain food. Have fun matching the beaks to the tools Beaks and Tools worksheet.

Stop, Look and Listen

Learn more about what birds eat by reading the RSPB pages at https://www.rspb.org.uk.

Become An Eggshell Detective

Why not become an eggshell detective by reading the Woodland Trust's What Hatched Here? how to identify bird egg shells guide.

Feathers and Flight

Feathers are incredible! They cover the bodies of birds and help them to fly, but they’re great at keeping them warm. Even ostriches who don’t fly have amazing feathers. Here’s some amazing facts about feathers

Now watch a video to learn more about feathers.

Feathers are vital to birds for many reasons:

  • Birds use their feathers to help them fly.
  • Feathers are made of keratin, the same thing our hair and fingernails are made of. That makes them lightweight, but also flexible yet rigid enough to help them fly.
  • The muscles attached to the base of each feather allow the bird to move them as needed. When in flight, as a bird flaps its wings down, the feathers move together. Then, as the bird moves its wings up, the feathers move apart to allow air to pass through. The motion of the feathers aids in flight.
  • Some kinds of feathers, including down feathers help keep birds warm. Birds are able to trap pockets of air close to their bodies using these feathers, which allows them to stay warm.Sometimes when it's cold, you can see a bird fluffing its feathers. It does this to help trap more air, allowing them to stay warm.
  • Feathers are water resistant, which helps keep birds dry in the rain or in the water. Feathers, especially dark-coloured ones, even help protect against the sun.

Take a look at the Woodland Trust's Feather identification: Common Feathers in the UK link and learn how to recognise common feathers you might find.

Feathers are also a part of a bird's identity, so we can tell a blackbird, say from a thrush. Their feathers can help them attract a mate, or even to blend into the background.

Just like we shed our hair, birds do the same with their feathers. This is called moulting, as old and damaged feathers fall out to be replaced by new feathers.

Nests

Birds have all sorts of ideas about home sweet home. Take a look https://www.dkfindout.com/ to learn more.

You can also read the RSPB web site How Birds Build Nests? page to learn more.

Our houses are all different, and it is no different for birds. Some birds are larger and so need bigger nests, others need to keep their nests hidden from predators( like other birds or animals which might eat the eggs or babies).

They build nests to be home to their eggs and baby birds (nestlings) when they hatch. So it is all about camouflage (blending in), shelter, and safety.

Birds also think about the weather when they are nest building-they want to keep them as dry as possible, they don't want the wind to blow the nest down, or the nestlings to get too hot or cold.

The grass or leaves or moss or animal fur is like a cushion for the eggs to keep them from breaking.

Bird's Nest
Thrush's Nest on Bennachie

Bird Poop!

Yes all birds poop and hopefully not on our heads!

Okay here are all the things you need to know about bird poop and were too polite to ask!

Also check-out https://justbirding.com/ web site.

This grossness just get worse, with some birds that don't poop at all, they throw up pellets instead!

Here’s all you need to know about bird pellets! https://barnowltrust.org.uk/

Jock o' Bennachie

Jock Says: Don’t handle or dissect bird poop or pellets in case of germs or allergies-just look with your eyes, don’t touch.

Do Birds Pee? Plus 16 More Bird Poop Facts
Do Birds Pee? Plus 16 More Bird Poop Facts
Female Barn Owl Regurgitates Pellet

Some of Jock o' Bennachie's Favourite Birds

Jock has many favourite birds that live on or around Bennachie.

His particular favourites are the wren, the blackbird, the great spotted woodpecker and of course the mighty buzzard.

Read more about these lovely birds that you are likely to see on your walk.

Keep your eyes peeled when you are out and about, and see how many you can spot.

Try using the RSPB What Did You See? worksheet to record which birds you see.

Don't forget to enter our Competition by uploading a photograph of any birds that you see.

Upload Your Photograph

The Wren

The Wren is found in mixed woodlands and in gardens.

Did You Know?

  • It is a little bird that is only 10 cm long - that is the length of an adult thumb or Jock’s tiny toe and has a very loud trill sound.
  • Look out for it low down on log piles or in bushes.
  • In July may be sitting on eggs as they are raising a second brood of chicks,. They sit on the eggs for 2-3 weeks, then after hatching the birds are fed for another 2-3 weeks and then they can fly…
  • Wrens have pointed bills for picking up spiders and insects.

Now watch these videos to learn what a Wren sounds like and learn why the Wren is the "King of the Birds".

YouTube Video: Wren Bird Singing a Beautiful Song - Birdsong and Sounds
As told by Jackie Ross, North East Storyteller

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Jock likes woodpeckers as they use their strong bills to drill into dead trees looking for insects like beetle larvae, seeds and nuts...

Did You Know?

  • They have special shock absorbent tissue at the base of the bill and the skull to cushion the impact of all the drumming.
  • Jock O Bennachie can’t do this as he would get a serious headache!
  • They are about 22-23 cm long and weigh about 85 g.
  • The male has a red patch on the back of his head, and youngsters have red crowns.
  • They have very distinctive bouncing flight and you will see them clinging onto tree trunks and branches, and they will often try to hide on the side away from you.
  • The nest hole is made by both the mum and the dad, and they may use it again in the next years.
  • Both parents incubate the clutch of white eggs, which take about 12 days to hatch.
  • Individual parents look after the brood once they have left the nest, feeling them for the first 10 days, when they begin to become more independent.

Have you every wondered if Woodpeckers get headaches?

Watch this video to find out the answer!

Do Woodpeckers Get Headaches?
Woodpecker Holes
Woodpecker Holes
More Woodpecker Holes
More Woodpecker Holes

Blackbirds

When Jock gets out of his bed in the morning up to the end of July it is the blackbird that he often hears singing. Use the audio player below so you can hear the sounds too.

Blackbirds are found everywhere in gardens and countryside and from coasts to hills, although not on the top of Bennachie or other hills/mountains

  • The blackbird is a songbird that belongs to the family of thrushes.
  • The blackbird is an omnivore (it eats plants and meat). Its diet is based on insects, worms, slugs, seed, fruit and berries. Blackbirds occasionally eat small amphibians and lizards.
  • Male blackbirds have yellow bills.
  • Blackbirds build amazing nests lined with mud… they can raise up to 2 different broods starting in March and finishing at the end of July.

You can learn 21 facsinating facts about Blackbirds at https://community.rspb.org.uk/ web site.

Fun Activity Often Jock and local blackbirds have a wee game where Jock cooks some spaghetti and pretends this is earthworms. Without using his hands he tries to eat this spaghetti but the blackbird always wins! Try watching a blackbird looking for worms!
Jock o Bennachie

Jock Says: If you see young birds it is very important to leave them alone as often their parent is nearby. The might look lost but they are not!

Blackbird
Blackbird
Blackbird Game
Blackbird Game - Lots of Fun!

Buzzards

Jock likes the Buzzards as they fly around his ears and help to remove annoying branches that sometime get stuck in them.

He also likes them as they sometimes sound like a meow-ing cat and Jock likes wildcats!

Now listen to the Buzzard's call and see what you think...

Buzzards are Birds of prey or "raptors", are meat eating birds that use their strong feet, talons and hooked beaks to catch and kill their prey

You can learn more about Buzzard by visiting https://www.rspb.org.uk/ and the http://www.garden-birds.co.uk/ web sites.

Buzzard
Buzzard

UK Birds and Sounds App

Fun Activity: You can use the UK Birds and Sounds application to learn more about bird songs. You can also use it to keep a record of the birds you hear.

UK Birds and Sounds App in Apple App Store

UK Birds and Sounds

Jock’s Favourite Bird Jokes...

Jock loves nothing better than a good laugh at a good joke. These are some of Jock’s favourite bird jokes just for you...

Which birds steal soap from the bath?... robber ducks!

Which bird is always out of breath?... a puffin!

Send Jock your favourite bird jokes in and we will add them to the web site.

Send Us Your Jokes

Jock o Bennachie
Jock o Bennachie

Also see our other Summer Programme 2020 information and don't forget to enter our Competition.

If you have enjoyed these activities please share them with your friends and family.