Logo Utrecht University

Economic and Social History Blog


Watching the birds in my garden

During the period of self-isolation I keep a daily blog with short stories about economic history, environmental history, and the birds in my garden. It began on Thursday, March 19, when I looked out of my window.


Yesterday I had a rather gloomy contribution to our chatgroup. So let me try to be more cheerful today. One of the nice things about being at home is that I really have to watch the birds in my garden, because they are right in front of me. It is nice to see them all so active.


The magpies started building a nest in the big pine tree 5 or 6 weeks ago already, and still more or less dominate the scene; when they come down from their nests, all other birds suddenly disappear (the cats have the same effect). It almost seems as if they enjoy this.


Hedge sparrow

The pair of hedge sparrows have also been quite active the last few weeks – their nest is right in front of me, and ‘he’ (I assume) has been extremely vocal with a very nice melodious song (I actually hear him now). The literature tells me that it is he who sings, but it is hard to see the difference, and there is probably room for new research going beyond the gender stereotypes pointing out that this is not true. It is perhaps interesting to tell that in a distant past biologists thought that most birds made pairs for life and were loyal partners, but that they discovered very different behaviour when they began to do DNA research and were able to really find out who was the father (and the mother) of all those nice chicks. So much for romantic tales about bird loyalty.

Great tit

Then there are great tits and the blue tits, who probably have nests as well, but I do not know where. On Monday a wren visited our garden; it is very small, with a very nice upright tail, and a song even nicer than the hedge sparrow. It is really lovely to see and to hear:




It is not the smallest bird that ever set foot in our garden, but more about that in the future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *