Sunday, 17 July 2011

London Tree Sparrow Partnership Tour


We dodged the rain today to see the London Tree Sparrow Partnership in action. Tour members had a look at one of the feeding stations where red and white millet attracts good numbers of Tree and House Sparrows giving a chance to see the two species side by side. We then joined one of the ringing teams and had a ringing demonstration where young birds were being fitted with colour (red) rings.

Tree Sparrows are in decline because of intensive agriculture practises and the use of chemicals that reduce seed and insect life for birds. Across the UK these agricultural methods have led to a decline of up to 80% in farmland birds. Our Beddington Tree Sparrows disperse from Beddington for the winter looking for food in the surrounding countryside (like they have done for centuries) but the food is no longer there so the birds perish and few return to breed.

So the plan is to:
a) Provide more winter feeding at Beddington Farmlands to try and encourage the birds to remain on site
b) Ask members of the public who live in the surrounding area to put up millet feeders for the Tree Sparrows (in their gardens and land)
c) Set up feeding stations in farmland in the surrounding countryside
d) Colour ring the birds at Beddington to track their movements to (hopefully) the new feeding stations.

So in short the public are being invited to take part in the project by
1) Looking out for Tree Sparrows with red rings on their legs and reporting it to
2) Setting up their own feeding stations of millet to attract Tree Sparrows

Here's a few pictures from today:

Richard Black (RSPB) with a Tree Sparrow pullus. Tree Sparrows take 14 days on average to fledge. As can be seen on this semi naked young bird the feathers are not evenly distributed over a bird but are arranged in tracts (pterylae) and seperated by bare skin (apteria).

Tree Sparrow pullus sporting its silver ring on the left leg- the right leg was fitted with a red ring (but is out of sight). Looking somewhat like a little dinosaur and without intervention.... heading the same way as them too.

Tree Sparrow eggs

Ringing demonstration with Tree Sparrow expert Derek Coleman (left)

Roger's Tree Sparrow video (some id tips and great photography)

Other London Tree Sparrow Partnership Links:

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