Monday, 7 November 2011

Great Tit Bill Attachment

The British Trust for Ornithology have been asking volunteers taking part in their Garden Bird Watch to report birds with deformed bills, and some of those reported have been so bizarre that it is a wonder that the bird in question is still alive. During the course of the last year I have not encountered any such birds, but during a garden ringing session over the weekend I captured a Great Tit with an interesting adaptation on its bill!

Great Tit - November 2011

I initially watched this bird fly onto the peanut feeder, and after a brief attempt at feeding, it dropped onto the sunflower hearts and began to feed. It appeared to have no trouble feeding, and so I assume it must have become well and truly adapted to its attachment. As it flew off the feeder it dropped straight into my net, thereby allowing closer inspection.

Great Tit - November 2011

The seed was well wedged onto the upper mandible and so this individual was still able to feed, although clearly it was going to provide some limitations. The bird itself was an adult male, and was a good weight and in good body condition, so it must have become used to its adaptation.  

Seed Wedged on Great Tit Bill

Obviously, I could not rule out that this seed had only recently become wedged, although looking at the wear on the front of it and on the birds bill, it looked as if it had been present for a while. Trying to get the thing off proved to be a bit of an epic, and I resorted to using my ringing plies to tease it off since it was stuck hard.

Seed Wedged on Great Tit Bill

Having, set this bird free from its modified bill it flew off, I hope it hadn't got so used to having the seed stuck on the end of its bill that it's forgotten to feed with a normal bill!!!

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