Take a look at the photo and you will think that it’s a song thrush. As you take another look, you may notice that it’s different from the ones that you normally see. It has a bold stripe over its eye giving it a cross look and it also has red under its wing.
This bird is a Red Wing. They come to Bute from October from Iceland and settle here on the west coast for the winter. There are others that arrive on the east coast and they are from Scandinavia. They can be seen in the company of a larger bird called the Fieldfare, and I will write about them once I have managed to get a photo of one.
The Redwings feed on worms and insects and can be seen on farms looking for these. They also feed on berries, and this is a time that you may be able to get a good look at them as they are now frequenting the gardens on Bute. Not in great numbers that you may see in the fields, but as individuals looking for a tasty bite. Still looking for worms, but have been known to eat grated cheese, if you have a holly tree, they may make a bee-line for it.
Hawthorn and Ivy bushes get the same treatment, and if they do arrive in great numbers, they may strip all the berries of them. If you have a bird table, then any old fruit will be most welcome by them. If no table, then the ground will do as they are not too fussy. (Hunger makes good kitchen)
Talking about berries, well it seems that every year we get someone on the telly or the radio, telling us that we are going to have a hard winter. They have been doing this for many years and each time we have had a mild one. They seem to think that as there are a lot of berries on the trees that the weather is going to be bad... The true fact is that there are berries on the trees every year. The only difference is, if we get gale force winds when the flowers are on the trees, then a lot of them will get blown off before the bees etc. have time to pollinate them.
Another fact is that if the weather is very wet, then the bees will stay in their hive. No pollination-no berries. That means the berries will be in short supply for the winter, but if the winds are light at the same time, then all the flowers will be pollinated, and the end product will be trees heavy with berries. So that is the reason for bad weather forecasting. They seem to be looking out of their windows and see the trees loaded with berries, and tell us the doom and gloom story. We may have a hard winter, but it will not be because of the berries
Back to the Redwing. I hope that you get a chance to see them as they are smart colourful birds that are here for a little while, then off back from whence they came.
First Published in the Buteman. 03-12-2004