Saturday, 14 September 2013

Bird attacks!

Can blue tits save our conker trees? You could help us find out. It will only take a few minutes and, with enough records, we can begin to understand how blue tits are responding to the horse-chestnut leaf miner. We launched the mission last year, but we hope to have more records this year.
We know that blue tits (along with great tits and coal tits) do feed on horse-chest leaf-miners. They peel open the leaf mine to extract the pupa inside.
You might have noticed blue tits feeding in the canopy of horse-chestnut trees, but bird-attacked leaf-mines are easy to spot and count. (Photo by Richard Broughton)
But which trees to they attack? Is it any tree, or do they preferentially attack the most infested trees and leaves?
And, does that activity occur everywhere? Or is it a behaviour that is spreading across the country (such as when blue tits learned to attack milk bottle tops to get the cream)?
The evidence of bird attacks. Look for these and count them to take part in the bird attacks mission of Conker Tree Science (you don't have to wait to watch the birds themselves).
Download the instructions, spend a few minutes counting bird attacks on horse-chestnut leaves (it's an ideal activity to do with children, but adults can do it on their own as well!) and then submit the results. With enough records we should be able to answer these questions - so by counting bird attacks you'll be contributing to real science.


  1. We've just received an email from someone saying "We have noticed that as well as blue tits, there are other birds eating the miners e.g. robins, goldfinch and even jackdaws."

    Has anyone else noticed other species of bird feeding on the leaf miners?

    1. Yes, this morning, there was a flock of goldfinches feeding from a horsechestnut

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