A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Hooptedoodle #256 - Demography at the Kitchen Window

Yet another Hooptedoodle post is a sure sign that not much is happening here on the hobby front - I am quietly doing some lightweight sessions of painting of Spanish grenadiers, but there won't be much to see of them for a little while.

As anyone who has read this blog before will realise, we are very enthusiastic about the garden birds here at Chateau Foy - since we live on the edge of a decent-sized wood, our bird feeders are very popular at this time of year - especially the sunflower hearts - they are definitely on trend - and there is always something to look at.

Among so many visitors, we are bound to get some oddities, and over the 17 years or so we've lived here we have, I think, seen three examples of albinism. There was once a completely white sparrow, and then there was a male chaffinch with a large white patch on his upper body - they both seemed quite healthy, and were around for a complete season without seeming to get picked on by the other birds.

Now we have this fellow - never seen one like this before. This, clearly, is a common-all-garden European Jackdaw, corvus monedula to our Roman chums, but he is supposed to be all black - his plumage is definitely non-regulation. Rather distinguished looking, maybe?

I am interested that we have seen so few albino specimens - I have no idea how many birds we see in a season - there are many millions of visits over the years, but many of these will be regular returners - at any moment on a sunny day we can see maybe 30 or 40 bluetits, maybe slightly fewer goldfinches, maybe the same again of chaffinches, and so on and so on, all in the garden at the same time, which is the sort of guide to numbers that the RSPB are interested in. How many of these were here this morning, yesterday, last year is unknown, though interesting. An albino is recognisable - you know there's only one of him - so it is hard to get a true impression. Whatever the lack of precision, albinos are obviously rare.

Which begs the further question - are they rare because there are very few hatched, or because they may be weak individuals who do not survive for long? No idea, obviously. The examples we have seen on our feeders seem vigorous enough, but then they would, wouldn't they?

Anyway - this is our current albino jackdaw - say hello. Seems a nice enough chap. It is tempting to give him a nickname of some sort, but it occurs to me that if this nickname made any reference to the colour of his plumage I might be in trouble.

So I shall call him Herbert. Make something of that, if you will.

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