August 8th   2 comments

The corn bunting breeding season is drawing to a close. I checked 14 territories this morning in detail and there was only one bird singing, and then only for a few seconds. The rest were unoccupied or with adults busy with fledged chicks. Out of the 38 territories I have monitored intensively this summer, I only have three with chicks still in the nest, and all will have fledged in 9 days. There was a “flock” of more than 18 corn buntings in the winter wheat field at Caiplie. This was adults and fledged juveniles from at least three broods (there were four nests in this field). The oldest fledglings – now about three weeks old looked fairly independent and were feeding on the ears of wheat. It is strange to go round the fields and not to hear corn buntings, but it’s been over four months of singing for some males and they need a break now to moult and regain condition before the winter. Although they haven’t been producing the eggs, or incubating them, or feeding the chicks in most cases, as the females have been. The females must really be in need of a break. But August and September should be kind to them, with warm weather, long days and plenty of food up until harvest and then afterwards with stubble fields and spilt grain.

An adult (left) watching out for trouble for its chick in Territory 312. The chick is 16-18 days out of the nest and 28 days old. I was glad to get this photo because I have noticed that chicks have more “open” faces but this makes it clear – a more extensive uniform warm buff around the eye. The wing feathers are pale fringed making each feather stand out much more. The bill is not full size yet either.
The only corn bunting singing today. The male in territory 53 by the Barnsmuir fruit shack. He was mostly making the ticking call that corn buntings make when they think a predator is in the vicinity (my dog brings this on, looking like a little fox, which is quite handy when you need to assess whether there are still chicks in the territory). This male’s nest fledged on the 23rd of July, and the female is still feeding the chicks that have moved from the spring barley field where the nest was, over the road into the brassica field opposite.

Posted August 8, 2021 by wildcrail in Sightings

2 responses to “August 8th

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  1. I’m still hearing a corn bunting singing away at the top of Warsea road.

    • That’s territory 209 – one of my late ones. The only males singing seem to be those still with chicks in the nest. The female was feeding chicks, 9 days old, today. I’m hopeful these will make it through the next 3-4 days until fledging.

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