Bird Bingo is back! Round 2: Woodland Birds
If you’ve been taking part in RSPB’s 2019 Big Garden Bird Watch (26-28 January), you might already have seen Part 1 of our quick reference guide to some of Scotland’s best-loved birds, commonly found in our gardens. We hope you enjoyed Bird Bingo Round 1 - it's a quick, fun, easy game for the whole family to enjoy!
Here in Part 2, we’ll give you another six bird species to spot, this time in your local woodland or forest… you’ll have to work a bit harder to see all of these specimens. Grab those binoculars, find a forest near you, and let’s play… Bird Bingo Round 2!
Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
There are 88 subspecies of Wren, all small, brown birds. Their call is complex and distinctive - a series of fast trills. Wrens raise their tails up when they are calling - another way to tell them from similar birds like the Dunnock. They are insectivorous, so look for them on the ground or at the base of your bird feeder.
Their Latin name ‘Troglodytidae’ means ‘cave-dweller.’ These small birds like to build their dome-shaped nests in tight, dark, enclosed spaces. In European folklore, the Wren was the ‘king of the birds’, and killing one was said to bring bad luck to a farmer’s crops.
Great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
The plumage of the Great spotted woodpecker is unmistakable, with a distinctive red path on the lower belly, and a red patch on the back of the head on male and juvenile birds. Found mostly in Europe and North Africa, occasionally migrating when the weather is cold.
The drumming of their sharp bills indicates a search for food - they can dig out seeds, nuts and insect larvae, and have been known to steal the eggs of other birds. They nest in hollowed-out trees, and both parents help to incubate and raise the hatchlings. These are some of the biggest birds on our Bird Bingo card, with a wingspan of 13-15 inches.
Siskin (Carduelis spinus)
Photo: Ole Petter Rust, on Flickr
The common or European siskin is another small brown bird, but with a bright yellow colour on its belly and black-tipped wings. Female Siskins tend to be a little more drab - tending towards an olive colour. They mainly feed on the small seeds of coniferous trees, and are a common sight in Scotland’s forests, although you may be lucky enough to spot one in your garden if you have a bird feeder.
These acrobatic birds can sometimes be seen hanging upside-down to feed. While they do migrate, they do so only when food is scarce, every few years. They have two distinct calls - one ascending and one descending. There are between 20-36 million Siskins in the wild, at the last count.
Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris)
Photo: Wikimedia (NB. We rotated this image - this wee guy is actually climbing UP!)
The Treecreeper’s name comes from its behaviour - you will see these small, brown birds climbing deftly along branches and trunks of trees in search of insects and grubs. They measure just 12-18cm long, with long beaks and sharp, curved talons.
Nesting in couples or occasionally in small flocks, these unobtrusive birds are tough to spot, with a subtle call. They are unlikely to be seen in your garden or local park. You’ll need to head to a nature hide to find one. Watch out for their spiralling ascent of broad tree trunks as they creep upwards, searching for food.
Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
The Greenfinch is a small bird, similar in appearance to the house sparrow but with a golden-yellow colour and green tones to its plumage. With a wingspan of up to about 10 inches, they are to be found nesting in hedgerows, the edges of forests, and in particularly overgrown gardens.
Feeding mainly on berries and seeds, they occasionally flock with other species of finches and wrens. There’s a notable ‘wheeze’ in their call, which is made up of a series of rapid notes. There was a decline in Goldfinches in the 1970s and 1980s, and they remain a protected species.
Raven (Corvus corax)
Ravens are a little harder to spot than their cousins, the slightly smaller crow, but they are still a fairly common sight in both urban and wooded areas. While their guttural calls might not be the most appealing of songs, they are instantly recognisable.
The collective noun for ravens is a “murder” (or sometimes an “unkindness” or a “treachery”). These birds appear often in folklore and fairy tales. Perhaps most famously, the Norse god Odin had two ravens who served as his eyes and ears, named Huginn and Munin. Carrion birds, they feed on the carcasses of other animals - perhaps that is why they became associated in myth with the passing of life into death.