Which British bird is supposed to have influenced the opening notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, and is the name given to Alabama’s state bird?

Which British bird is supposed to have influenced the opening notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, and is the name given to Alabama’s state bird?

Growing up in Britain on a farm during the 1950s, I was always fascinated by the sight and sound of the yellowhammer that belongs to the bunting family and is 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) in length. The males would sing from the tops of hedges 

Which British bird was killed and imprisoned in cages due to its habit of attacking the blossom of commercial fruit trees?

Which British bird was killed and imprisoned in cages due to its habit of attacking the blossom of commercial fruit trees?

There was a small mixed orchard of apple and pear trees a few yards away from my farm during the 1950s and close to a farm laborer’s cottage that stood derelict. The occupier had not been seen since World War 11. When I wandered down 

BIRDWATCHING DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN CALIFORNIA

BIRDWATCHING DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN CALIFORNIA

The current global pandemic reminds me of my birdwatching experience at Spurn Point Bird Observatory in Yorkshire, England during October 1962. I stayed there for several days while there was no communication with the outside world. On the day I left the Observatory, I discovered 

Which species of large Atlantic gull is sometimes nicknamed the “minister” or “coffin-bearer”, presumably because of the color of its plumage?

Which species of large Atlantic gull is sometimes nicknamed the “minister” or “coffin-bearer”, presumably because of the color of its plumage?

I never saw great black-backed gulls around the farm during the 1950s, and at the time, only a few wintered around York.  They are the largest gull in the world, measuring 30 inches (75cm) in length. By comparison, an adult golden eagle ranges in size 

Which British bird Required a UK Law to Stop it Being Eaten as a Countryside Delicacy and its Eggs taken for Cooking?

Which British bird Required a UK Law to Stop it Being Eaten as a Countryside Delicacy and its Eggs taken for Cooking?

It was 1958, I was 14, and had recently joined the York Bootham School Natural History Club to broaden my knowledge of birds around my home and to learn of the best birding spots near York. 138 species were listed and I had probably seen 

Which British Bird used to peck the tin foil off milk bottles to get to the cream after they were delivered by the milkman?

Which British Bird used to peck the tin foil off milk bottles to get to the cream after they were delivered by the milkman?

Growing up with blue tits on the farm is one of my earliest memories. These are feisty little birds (4.5 in/12 cm in length), noisy, sociable, inquisitive and lovable.  The moment I threw out bacon rind or hung up monkey nuts (peanuts in their shells), 

50 percent of Bird Species are dimorphic (distinct differences in appearance between the sexes); usually it is the male that is better-looking, but there are exceptions.

50 percent of Bird Species are dimorphic (distinct differences in appearance between the sexes); usually it is the male that is better-looking, but there are exceptions.

A smallish dainty bird (7in/18cm long), called a red-necked phalarope, attracted a lot of discussion during my time at Spurn Point Bird Observatory in the early 1960s, where the species was a very infrequent visitor.  Although classified as a shorebird, it swims rather than wades, 

Which seabird was named after the old Viking word for “foul”?

Which seabird was named after the old Viking word for “foul”?

For 15 years, from about 1950, my family spent a week on holiday in a rented bungalow on the cliff top at Reighton Gap, near Filey, Yorkshire. We always expected the accommodation to have been washed away by the sea by the following year because 

Which shorebird can be blown across the Atlantic to make very rare appearances in Britain?

Which shorebird can be blown across the Atlantic to make very rare appearances in Britain?

Early during my birdwatching career, it was the more common species I recorded as I stayed close to home, but by the start of the 1960s, when I was 16,  I discovered Spurn Point Bird Observatory where my expectations suddenly changed. I was on the 

Which half-ounce bird travels the 4100km (2650 miles) twice a year between Britain and the Sahal Region of Africa?

Which half-ounce bird travels the 4100km (2650 miles) twice a year between Britain and the Sahal Region of Africa?

It was my job as a young child in the early 1950s to scythe the stinging nettles from around our farm’s chicken coops. I used a hand scythe so I would not sting myself and I made sure there were dock leaves nearby just in 

Which small British falcon has been abused by humans?

Which small British falcon has been abused by humans?

As a young boy in Britain during the early 1950s, I did not contribute to the well-being of merlins. These are small, fierce falcons that hunt other birds by attacking them in flight, and appear somewhat pigeon-like, which has earned them the nickname of pigeon 

Welcome to my Bird Blog: Memoirs of a Lifelong Birder

Welcome to my Bird Blog: Memoirs of a Lifelong Birder

I began birdwatching and egg collecting at the start of the 1950s in Britain when I was 7 years old. Egg collecting came to an abrupt halt in 1954 when the British government made this pastime illegal but I continued to maintain my “life list”