Some birds are unique like this Redwing that is visiting our garden for the second time now. We spotted it on November 12 but last year it was here at the same time. This Redwing has a a condition called partial albino or leucism. This is a genetic mutation resulting in the colourless spots in its plumage.
We wonder where it has been during the last year. But we are sure that it remembers that in our garden there are nice people who put out feed for the birds in winter.
Pictures taken one year apart. The first from this year but the second from last year.
Twelve Redwings arrived unexpectedly on March 5 and have been in the garden since. We had only seen a single bird here on and off in the last few weeks, so perhaps these are migrators arriving early. Or Redwings moving places within Iceland? The group shows all the signs of birds newly arrived, are constantly on the move, fighting among themselves and singing in the snow. Usually Redwings arrive here in late March or beginning of April, so this is quite early for Redwings if they are migrators.
We have now had news of Redwings in the eastern part of Iceland so most likely these are our spring birds arriving, signalling the coming of spring.
As it gets colder the birds frequent the garden and the feeding trays. Redwings, Blackbirds, Starlings and Redpolls are here in the dozens along with several Crossbills. When it gets well below zero, minus 12° C in the picture, the birds puff themselves up to retain body heat, like the Redwing here.
Redwings have a special place in the hearts of Icelanders. They signal the usually long awaited coming of spring. Huge flocks of them arrived here April 5 and 6 from their winter grounds in Britain and Western Europe. They were, however, not welcomed with spring weather, but with a full-blown blizzard, one of the worst this winter.
The weather was as bad as it can get, with snow blowing into huge banks, the shivering birds covered in snow and the house trembling from the storm. It is likely that some if them have not survived this harsh welcome.
This sunny morning, in the snow and frost, there are around 30 singing Redwings in the garden, quarrelling over the feed trays – the garden resounding with their song.
The Great Backyard Bird Count began in 1998. Participants need to observe and count the numbers of different kinds of birds in their garden for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, February 14-17. Participants can count from any location, anywhere in the world, for as long as they wish!
More information, and to register, see the website: https://gbbc.birdcount.org
The Icelandic Backyard Bird Count is a similar event hosted by Fuglavernd in Iceland and is usually in the end of January.
Redwings in the thousands arrived in Iceland on April 1st and 2nd. The groups in our garden were obviously tired and famished after their flight from the British Isles. Up to 65 Redwings were counted here, feeding on apples and sunflower seeds.
We expect spring to greet our newcomers warmly but that is not the case now. The weather has been windy with frost and snow – not a warm welcome at all. The Redwings, however, do not seem troubled and are already singing their hearts out which is sure to signal the coming of warmer days.
Yesterday the seashore at Eyrarbakki was teeming with Redwings. These are the migrants that arrived on April 3 in the thousands from their winter grounds in the British Isles. They are spread over the South coast, staying near the seaside because of the cold weather. The temperatures this week are going down to minus 6 – 7°C in the night-time.
Some Redwings stay in Iceland for the winter but most migrate. Just on the shore at Eyrarbakki their numbers were estimated to be at least 500 – 700. The Redwing is one of the best loved migratory birds in Iceland and its arrival is awaited and welcomed because it signals the coming of the long awaited spring.
During the breeding time the Redwing mostly eats worms and insects. At other times of the year it is more into berries and seeds. Although the Redwing is considered one the Icelandic migrants, big groups of them stay for the winter.
The Redwing builds its nest in various locations and usually lays 4 to 6 eggs which hatch in about 10 to 14 days. The young leave the nest after about two weeks and depend on the parents for an additional two weeks. Then the female often lays eggs for the second time.
Here you can hear the beautiful song of the Redwing: