An aggressive young female blackcap in a dead bush in the garden in February 2011
It doesn’t seem fair or right to me that we have to call such an obviously browncapped bird a “blackcap”, just because the male of the species has a black top.
Similarly with “blackbirds” – which brown female blackbirds are definitely not.
We have a couple of blackcaps (Sylvia atrocapilla) in our wooded back garden most of the year – these warblers like that sort of habitat, with tall old trees and plenty of cover. Last summer I noticed their young for the first time and watched one young female grow to adulthood.
A juvenile blackcap in August 2010
Traditionally British blackcaps go to Iberia or Africa in winter, but having read everything I can find about blackcaps, I have now concluded that here in mild South Wales the blackcaps are probably resident all year round, not bothering to migrate.
And why would they? Both insects and fruit are available year round at my bird table and the latest little lady blackcap will happily sit on the block of bird suet filled with insects and eat from it.
In fact, she is getting quite proprietorial about it and even drives off the robin, which usually rules the roost.
During the breeding season blackcaps usually eat caterpillars, flies and spiders, but they may also feed on berries, especially in winter. In some Mediterranean countries they are called “fig-eaters” and sadly they are sometimes illegally trapped and eaten, as are other little songbirds.
In a good season - this is April 2008 - the blackcaps love the Mahonia berries, but this year the harsh midwinter destroyed the flowers and there is no fruit
I was going to write about (more…)
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