Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Greenhouse birds

I mentioned earlier that I was amazed how tame all the birds around the Eden Project seem to have become and how I thought this might be due to the unusual combination of high numbers of people spending time in a habitat rich organic area offering lots of food.

One british bird that is almost always fairly tame around humans is the Robin.
eden robin
This one was one of many (alongside a lot of wrens) that had made the dry temperate biome its home. The role of perch (traditionally occupyed in Christmas cards by a frosty gardener's fork) is played here by a big weird spiky sculpture. The robins colonised the greenhouses fairly early on and buoyed by the warmer temperature have done well. They are encouraged as opposed to discouraged as they add to the biological controls on insect pests. In fact in the humid tropics biome (the rainforesty one) they are replaced by an introduced population of sumatran white-eyes and anolis lizards. Apparently the reason this species is so tame is because it is used to following snuffling mammals like boar through the forest and finding food in the disturbed forest floor - gardener's with forks are just surrogate boar! This behaviour can apparently be found in similar birds around the world - one even got used to following giant tortoises.

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