Thursday, April 3, 2014

Firecrest nest building.


BWP states that the nest of Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus is an 'almost spherical, elastic cup of moss, lichens and cobwebs, of three main layers; outer layer of cobwebs, moss and lichens, with cobwebs used to fasten twigs together, middle layer of moss, and lining mainly of feathers (up to 3 000) and hair.' Yesterday I managed to take a few photographs of a pair of Firecrests as they gathered material for their nest. The nest was about the size of a tennis-ball and was suspended in the twiggy end of a conifer branch. Both sexes were working hard at collecting material from the ground before flying straight back to the nest. The male can be told from the female by his brighter and bolder bronze shoulder patch (pretty much lacking on the female).

Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus collecting nest material
 These were fantastic birds to watch and we hung about for quite a while watching them do a circuit from nest to adjacent tree to another tree, then to bushes above the nesting material, onto the ground, collect a load and then back to the nest.
Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus collecting nest material
 I'm not certain what the birds were collecting but they were completely involved in the task and they did not seem much bothered by the photographers who were lined up taking pictures. Some of the material appeared to be the veins and fibrous material of rotted down leaves although looking at these pictures it looks to me like hair or fur. Perhaps there's somebody looking at these pictures who can identify this material. If so let me know by way of a comment.
Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus collecting nest material

Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus collecting nest material
 These two photographs are of the male and his bronze shoulder patch can be seen quite clearly. This was not something that I was aware of before but once this feature is known it looks quite easy to sex these birds if you get decent views.
When the birds had a beak full of this stuff they looked like they had massive, unkempt moustaches and beards... like most bloke birders in fact!
Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus collecting nest material
 Mad, hairy, male Firecrest.
Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus collecting nest material

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