The term ‘Garden Birds’ does not have the same connotation here in the South of Spain as it does in Great Britain; there is no culture of deliberately attracting birds to the garden with bird tables and seed or peanuts to simply watch them and enjoy their presence, although there may be a bird bath offering them water. What the gardens and golf-courses of the newer residential areas do have to offer is an extended variety of flora – trees, shrubs and other plants that has increased the range of food available to them throughout most of the year; flowers to attract insects then seeds, berries and pine cones. There are still a good amount of the indigenous trees remaining and acres of well-watered grass in the shape of lawns and golf courses. It has been interesting, then, to discover that the birds that have adapted to the human invasion of their rightful habitat and frequent our gardens here, are pretty much from the same species as those that I saw in Wales.
year rOUND breeding RESIDENTS
The following are the birds seen in my garden on a regular basis throughout the year and that breed in the locality. All of the photographs have been taken in the garden and where possible, I have indicated when and why the birds visit the garden.
Collared Dove- Streptopelia decaocto
Collared Doves are widespread, common and numerous locally and in the wider region. A pair have nested in our big cypress tree several times. They come into the garden for water to drink and to bathe in.
Wren –Troglodytes troglodytes
Wrens are regular and frequent visitors to the garden. They roost and have nested in light fittings attached to the house walls on several occasions.
Robin- Erithacus rubecula
Robins are resident in the locality, most visible in the garden from September to June. They defend the garden part of their territory fiercely and forage regularly and frequently in the garden. They nest nearby, but not yet within our garden.
Blackbird- Turdus merula
Blackbirds are probably the most numerous and common of the birds resident in the locality. They frequent the garden to forage for food and have nested in various places within the garden every year.
The female Blackbirds are more wary than the males and less frequently seen out in the open. They forage and gather nesting materials from the garden. They are quite feisty and their alarm calls are often heard. They will readily chase off other, intruding females.
Blackcap – Sylvia atricapilla
Blackcaps are fully resident and nest very close by. They are regular visitors to the garden when there are fruits or berries to be had, and they come for water. Other times they cross the garden en route to trees on opposite sides. Pomegranates are a big draw and once the ripe fruit splits open, the Blackcaps eat out the seeds leaving the
The female Blackcaps are often more wary than the males, but this one discovered the Aloe plant some days before her mate, returning to it several times a day.
Sardinian Warbler- Sylvia melanocephala
Sardinian Warblers are not numerous in the locality, but there are a few pairs here. I see them in the garden quite frequently but not regularly, mainly when there are berries to be had. They also visit to drink and bathe sometimes.
Blue Tit – Cyanistes caeruleus
Blue Tits are probably amongst the most numerous and most frequently seen birds in the locality. They are seldom alone and stay together in pairs and then family groups. They make a thorough job of checking the foliage in the garden as well as the window and door frames for insects. Pairs have nested in light fittings attached to the house walls for several years.
Great Tit- Parus major
Great Tits are widespread throughout the region and are numerous in the locality, although probably not as numerous as Blue Tits. They are more wary and less frequently seen than Blue Tits too. Fairly frequent visitors to the garden, especially during the breeding season.
Short-toed Treecreeper- Certhia brachydactyla
Short-toed Treecreepers are common residents of woodland areas, that have adapted well to gardens in our locality. Frequent visitors seen exploring the palm trees and cork oaks, often as a pair. The last two years a pair have nested high up in a palm under the dead leaves.
Spotless Starling –Sturnus unicolor
The Spotless Starling replaces the Starling south of the Pyrenees. It is more uniform in colour and has more lilac & blue tinges to its plumage. It has a similar song to that of the Starling, but simpler. Behaviour and diet are very similar in both species.
A Spotless Starling in winter plumage, dotted with greyish-white spots that have often worn off by New Year
Jay – Garrulus glandarius
Used to seeing only glimpses of Jays in British woods, it's a real treat to see (and hear!) these glorious birds frequently and their glamorous looks are well suited to the palm trees. They sometimes use the garden beds for burying acorns and come to enjoy spectacular baths.
House Sparrow- Passer domesticus
House Sparrows are usually in small flocks; they come into the garden to forage for seeds etc., to drink and bathe in the water and also to take dust baths.
April-May time, House Sparrows always come and strip the remains of the Pampas Grass seed heads that I assume they use to line their nests
Greenfinches have copied the Sparrow's and also come for Pampas and sometimes squabbles break out between them
Chaffinch- Fringilla coelebs
Chaffinches are another widespread and common bird throughout the locality. Seen most often in the early spring when males sing. They visit the garden to forage on the ground; males are less frequently seen on the ground than females.
Female Chaffinches are more frequently seen in the garden pecking around on the ground
Serin- Serinus serinus
- Tiny Serins are often around in small flocks, more often heard twittering in trees than seen, but they do visit the garden quite often,especially when there are grass seeds to pick at.
Female Serin has less yellow in her plumage than the male. Although often in small flocks they nest quite separately; a pair have nested several times in our large cypress tree.
Greenfinch- Carduelis chloris
Greenfinches come into the garden for water and also to eat the seeds from the cypress trees
Goldfinch –Carduelis carduelis
Resident in the area, very occasionally seen in the garden:
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major