Hierarchy in the garden

My garden has a variety of different wildlife, some of the wildlife I can take photos of, others I have to rely on my trail camera.

While I was at school I left the trail camera pointing at one of the bird feeders. It took over a hundred photos, mostly of Blue tits, Sparrows, and a couple of Chaffinches which I don’t often see in the garden.

Because I have been watching the birds more frequently I have noticed not just the species have their own personalities but the individual bird has its own too. As species, generally the Coal tit flies in takes a seed and flies off, the Long tailed tits scatter whenever a larger bird flies over, such as a Pigeon and the Blue tits hop about everywhere. But when I start looking at each bird individually I have noticed some of the Great tits will fly straight in onto the feeder while others will hop around on the fence or on the bug hotel waiting until they think it is safe or perhaps this could be signs of social hierarchy within a species, where the dominant birds get the safest space on the feeders.

There isn’t much squabbling on the feeders and the same birds seem to visit the same feeders. The Great tit with the bad eye only feeds on the peanuts nearest the hazel tree and the ringed Blue tit only feeds from the bird table with the roof, again this might be all worked out between the birds??

When the squirrel is on the feeder the birds move to the other feeders.


The trail cameras point of view


We have around 15 Blue tits in our garden, my mum thinks their faces look like stormtrooper helmets.


The Blue tit on the right of the photo has been ringed, I have noticed it before and tried to get a clear photo of the Blue tits ring but its so tiny its hard to see what is written on it.


We have two Red Kites who often circle the garden


It looks like one of the Muntjacs that visit the garden could be pregnant, it’s belly is quiet rounded

Cookie the Badger looks like he/she has been putting a bit of weight on too.


About Alex White - Appletonwild

This is my diary of the wildlife where I live in Oxfordshire, and sometimes the places I visit. My passion is for British wildlife, especially Badgers and Hares. This year my debut book "Get Your Boots On" was published I am a keen amateur photographer. All the photographs on this blog are taken by myself unless stated otherwise. I am a member of A Focus on Nature, the network for Young Nature Conservationists, BBOWT, The Oxon Mammal group and The Oxfordshire Badger Group. You can also follow me on Twitter @Appletonwild Instagram appletonwild
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8 Responses to Hierarchy in the garden

  1. Mrs Doreen Gooding says:

    Here in the Charente (France) I have been feeding the birds all winter, I do wonder if there is any difference between birds of different countries even though they are the same species, my blue tits have a ranking system at the feeding station, it’s seems to depend on the little black breast patches, the longer the patch the higher the rank, Whether it’s because of the cold winds or not I don’t know , but some of them are sporting tufted head feathers? We get mostly Hawks andBuzzards here but they don’t bother the birds as it’s very rural and there are plenty of shrews and mice around. We had a nest of barn owls .. 5babies last year, the evening concert was incredible 🎶🤨
    Greetings to all birders 👋

    Liked by 1 person

  2. trispw says:

    Yes, exactly. It’s allowing human feelings to come into it. You get to know them; they get to know you. They are tame with you. It’s like you become friends and then something eats their chicks.

    You really do have to detach yourself and remember that, even though it’s in your garden, it’s WILDlife.


  3. trispw says:

    I’ve noticed that sparrow and tits are really well mannered and wait till the feeder is free …almost like they were queueing.

    Starlings, on the other hand, fight to get the food and are greedy.

    I feed blackbirds a mixture of dried meal worms, fat pellets and sultanas. They seem to want different things at different times of the year. Right now, presumably feeding young, they seem to try to pick up as many sultanas in their beaks as possible and fly off with them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • trispw says:

      A few weeks ago they wouldn’t touch the sultanas; not they won’t touch the fat pellets. It costs me more to feed them than it does to feed myself!

      Liked by 1 person

    • appletonwild says:

      We don’t get many Starlings on our feeders, it is the jackdaws and pigeons that push the smaller birds off. We also have Blackbirds and Robins that collect food to take away for young. Unfortunately we have found a few baby feathers around the garden suggesting that a Sparrowhawk has been busy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • trispw says:

        Oh no. That’s so sad. I mean I know it’s nature, but when you know the parents so well, it hurts. A magpie got one of the blackbirds’ nests last year and took the chicks. I was heartbroken for the parents which I had been feeding for a year.

        I guess that’s the thing about nature. It’s horribly cruel sometimes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • appletonwild says:

        Especially when you have watched them right from building the nest, but the Sparrowhawk probably has chicks too.

        Liked by 1 person

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