Pecking Order

Long Tail Tits Wm

I took this photo last week, during one of our brief interludes of soggy snow. The Long Tailed Tits only appear when the weather is bad. They’re tiny, but descend on the feeder in a small flock and through weight of numbers fight their way in.


Coal Tit Wm


Also on the diminutive side are the Coal Tits


Marsh Tit Wm


These gorgeous little birds are Marsh Tits


Blue Tit Wm


They tend to get shown the door by the Blue Tits


Great Tit Wm


Who in their turn get seen off by the Great Tits. This one is probably a male, it has quite a broad black stripe down its chest


Nuthatch Wm


All the small birds scatter when the Nuthatch arrives. This one complete with nut.


Woodpecker 012 Wm


And then there’s the Woodpecker, with that fearsome beak. This is a male, with a red patch on the nape of his neck. They are, perhaps surprisingly, quite nervous birds. Woodrow is keeping a close eye on me.


The ground feeders mill around underneath, taking advantage of any pieces that get dropped. I’ll save them for a future post. Except for one, who has promoted himself to Lord of the Bird Table by audacity alone:


Pheasant 009 Wm


Who, me?

Yes you Ptolemy. And have you hoovered up all the bird seed? Again??


Pecking Order

pin it?


2017-11-09T18:23:18+00:00January 31st, 2013|Tags: , |


  1. Em January 31, 2013 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    Our pecking order is the same here but with the Coal Tits in the Long Tailed position; their little flocks never come to the feeder unfortunately. They just sit in a tree and flutter around a bit before moving on. Lovely pictures!

    • Jessica January 31, 2013 at 4:06 pm - Reply

      The Long Tailed come so rarely, effectively the Coal Tits are at the bottom of the pecking order. They too get braver if there are a few of them around, and gang up on something bigger!

  2. Modern Country Style January 31, 2013 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    If I looked like that handsome fella then I think I’d strut about on the bird table too!!


    • Jessica January 31, 2013 at 4:07 pm - Reply

      He is quite the man about town isn’t he??

  3. 1gus1 January 31, 2013 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    How fabulous to see a pheasant on your bird table. We don’t have marsh tits either but the blue tits see off the coal tits. The biggest bird we see is a red kite but the commonest and most numerous are the starlings.

    • Jessica January 31, 2013 at 4:17 pm - Reply

      It’s really odd, I’ve seen spectacular starling murmurations over the fields closer to the coast, but never seen one in the garden. Which is a shame.

  4. steph January 31, 2013 at 3:04 pm - Reply

    My feathered friends aren’t quite as varied in color as yours….cardinals are the most colorful, and they do seem to dominate my feeders (along with the squirrels!–love their antics!) sparrows, wrens–a few tits; beautiful photos!!

    • Jessica January 31, 2013 at 4:40 pm - Reply

      Hi Steph and welcome to rusty duck!
      I’ve seen pictures of cardinals (bright red?) and they do look spectacular. We have a real problem with squirrels here, funny yes, but they really do dominate the feeding scene. You may have noticed the industrial mesh and armour plating on our peanut feeder – it’s squirrel bomb proof!!

  5. Simone January 31, 2013 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    Fantastic photography! I must get some bird feeders for my garden too and see what birds I can encourage. I think we would all love to see a Ptolomy in our gardens!!!

    • Jessica January 31, 2013 at 4:48 pm - Reply

      Thanks Simone. Most of the photos I took over the last couple of days and it’s been quite windy at times – feathers ruffled and sometimes not as sharp as I would have liked.
      12 pheasants in the garden one day over Christmas..

  6. Sue January 31, 2013 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    Wonderful. I’ve never seen a nuthatch. We sometimes woodpeckers -green and spotted. Once we had a sparrowhawk which sat on our garden bench and ate a sparrow. I did see a goldcrest on a walk this week which thrilled me.

    • Jessica January 31, 2013 at 4:56 pm - Reply

      I’d not seen a nuthatch either, until we came here. And never seen a green woodpecker, or goldcrest.
      Sparrowhawks circle overhead – thankfully so far we’ve been spared having one drop in for lunch!

  7. haggiz January 31, 2013 at 3:31 pm - Reply

    Beautiful photos as always. I love the nuthatch, we haven’t had one of those in the garden for years. I had a new feeder that you put an apple on for Christmas this year and it has attracted field fares to the garden for the first time. Julie x

    • Jessica January 31, 2013 at 4:58 pm - Reply

      Wow, where did you put the feeder?

  8. BadPenny January 31, 2013 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    Superb photos. I like the first one very much. Our woodpecker hasn’t been back but there have been pheasants in the field. We sometimes see a Wren.

    • Jessica January 31, 2013 at 5:08 pm - Reply

      Our previous house was also a thatch, and a wren had a nest in the roof! It had hollowed out a cavity in the straw above the back door and was the only bird small enough to get through the chicken wire that covered the roof. The baby birds used to poke their heads out when they heard Mum coming. Or the builders (yes, there too…!), who fed them with bits of their sandwiches.

  9. Rosie January 31, 2013 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    Wonderful photos! The wood pigeons and blackbirds do the hoovering up in our garden and we never see nuthatches or woodpeckers but we do have a sort of pecking order with the other birds who use the feeders. We had one little gang of long-tailed tits when the weather was really cold but usually only see blue and coal tits plus the gold finches, sparrows, robins and chaffinches and very occasionaly a thrush and a wren. Ptolemy is quite splendid isn’t he?

    • Jessica January 31, 2013 at 5:13 pm - Reply

      Ptolemy is getting quite large! I loved seeing the long tailed tits, they are such cute little birds.

  10. domesticali January 31, 2013 at 4:51 pm - Reply

    Lovely to share your garden residents. Though I was waiting for the squirrel…..

    • Jessica January 31, 2013 at 5:15 pm - Reply

      They are back too. Grrrr! Mike chased one down the garden with the water pistol only this morning!

  11. Anne January 31, 2013 at 6:49 pm - Reply

    I am suffering from serious bird feeder envy!! We have only had long tailed tits once, and we haven’t seen a woodpecker for several years. However, according to the Kate Humble Book of Birds which we got free with the Telegraph at the weekend, we are very lucky to have a nuthatch this far north!

    • Jessica January 31, 2013 at 7:15 pm - Reply

      The long tailed tits are a very rare occurrence for us too, sadly.

  12. Cumbrian January 31, 2013 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    Nice to see so many of our featherd friends.
    I don’t have feeders, but throw bread scraps out for them, and I’m ashamed to admit I can’t identify most of the smaller birds.
    We have a pair of pheasants visits, haven’t seen them this year yet, wood pigeon, a squirrel, collard doves, magpie, thrush, blackbird and sparrows anre the ones I can identify.

    • Jessica January 31, 2013 at 10:34 pm - Reply

      I have to confess, I had to consult a bird book to identify some of these. Before coming here I had neither the time nor the inclination. Nuthatches, woodpeckers, coal, marsh and long tailed tits are all new to me. But it is amazing just how many different birds there are around. Just starting to appreciate them really.

      • Cumbrian January 31, 2013 at 11:03 pm - Reply

        Yes, know what you mean; the house we moved in to about 2 years ago backs on to open fields, it’s amazing the variety of wildkife we see in the back garden.
        I forgot to mention the robin, we can recognise him (or her)

        • Jessica January 31, 2013 at 11:44 pm - Reply

          Robins are so sweet. My mother lives in a care home and we bought her a transparent feeder that attaches to the outside of a window. Unfortunately, for safety reasons, the window didn’t open quite far enough for us to attach it, so it now lives on our kitchen window. Robins come right up to it, even with me standing a couple of feet away!

  13. Denise January 31, 2013 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    The big fella can sleep in peace now. February 1st tomorrow – he’s safe till 12th August eh?

    • Jessica February 1, 2013 at 12:05 am - Reply

      Him and all his buddies Denise. 🙂

  14. Heda February 1, 2013 at 10:51 am - Reply

    Cracking pictures especially that first one!

    • Jessica February 1, 2013 at 11:11 am - Reply

      Thanks Heda!

  15. Anny February 1, 2013 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    I think we’re supporting a small colony of pigeons in our garden – they are certainly looking very fat indeed. It is a bit demoralising to see pounds of birdseed disappear under a flock of the beggars, but I suppose I should try not to be birdist.

    • Jessica February 1, 2013 at 12:55 pm - Reply

      Yes, I now what you mean. Our little marsh tits are on the RSPB’s red list. The squirrels already have stashes of nuts around the woods, our trees support them amply. Yet they prefer the easy option and thwart my efforts to help endangered birds.

  16. Julie February 1, 2013 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    Wow what a range of lovely visitors you have – you must be much more reliable than me at providing food, I think all of my resident birds find better peckings in our neighbours garden. I would love to have a nuthatch to visit – they are beautiful!

    • Jessica February 1, 2013 at 2:51 pm - Reply

      Hi Julie and welcome to rusty duck!
      The nuthatches are beautiful. Last year a young one flew into the greenhouse and I had to disentangle it from one of the aluminium rails, where it was trapped by its foot. Thankfully it recovered after a few minutes rest on top of the bird table, but it also meant I got a really close look at it!

  17. Judith February 1, 2013 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    Almost exactly the same pecking order here, although the chaffinches skulk on the ground waiting for food to be dropped. They never go on the feeders or the table . Real highlight today- tree creeper made a fleeting visit. First one ever on this feeder.

    • Jessica February 1, 2013 at 7:11 pm - Reply

      Tree Creeper – wow! I had to look that up. I think I may have heard one, but not seen it.

  18. Sarah February 1, 2013 at 7:22 pm - Reply

    Your photographs of the birds visiting your garden are wonderful especially the nuthatch complete with the nut. The birds in our garden always seem to notice when I am trying to photograph them and immediately disappear.
    Sarah x

    • Jessica February 1, 2013 at 8:28 pm - Reply

      Hi Sarah and welcome to rusty duck.
      The trick is to set up the camera on a tripod with a remote control. Then you can stand back and wait for some action.
      In theory. The really frustrating thing is when all the action is happening just to one side of the camera’s point of focus!!

  19. CherryPie February 2, 2013 at 12:57 am - Reply

    What a beautiful collection of birds you have visiting your garden. I really love the last photo and it’s commentary 🙂

    • Jessica February 2, 2013 at 9:51 am - Reply

      Thanks Cherie. He keeps us on our toes!

  20. Annie @ knitsofacto February 2, 2013 at 5:55 pm - Reply

    With so many dogs we don’t get many birds in the garden, mostly just blackbirds, sparrows and a robin or two, so I really enjoyed these pictures of (sorry, I can’t think how else to say this), your tits (honestly I never thought I’d be typing that in a blog comment!).

    That Marsh Tit is delightful 🙂

    • Jessica February 2, 2013 at 6:40 pm - Reply

      The compliment is much appreciated, few and far between these days! 🙂

  21. ropcorn February 8, 2013 at 12:03 pm - Reply

    Those are some amazing photos of beautiful birds! So cute! And I love their colors too. 🙂

    Than you for sharing!

    • Jessica February 8, 2013 at 2:49 pm - Reply

      Thank you Alex, my pleasure!

  22. BumbleVee February 14, 2013 at 11:18 pm - Reply

    AHA! the attack pheasant. I knew if I scrolled far enough back I would probably find out more ’bout him…. there he is in all his glory….. quite the Monarch….

    • Jessica February 15, 2013 at 9:52 am - Reply

      They are impressive birds aren’t they!

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