Churchyard birds: Summer 2023

Summer is well and truly with us, as we can tell by the changeable nature of the weather! And so are the summer migrants with Swifts, Swallows and House Martins swooping high over the churchyard, or low across the surrounding meadows. No sign of a Spotted Flycatcher or Turtle Dove yet, but please come and spend time in St John’s churchyard and enjoy some of the commoner species , which include the following.

House Sparrow
(Passer domesticus)

Small, sociable birds with a brown and grey plumage, with males sporting a black bib on their throat. These are predominantly seed eating birds.

European Robin
(Erithacus rubecula)

The nation’s favourite bird, and one that probably everyone would instantly recognise with their distinctive red breast. Robins can be quite friendly and often approach humans with little fear.

(Turdus merula)

A medium sized bird with, as the name suggests, black feathers, yellow beak and bright yellow eyes. The female isn’t black but dark mid-brown with some streaking on the breast. They are skilled songbirds and can be heard singing from treetops or perched on gravestones. Blackbirds are omnivorous and often forage for insects and worms in the grass.

Common Starling
(Sturnus vulgaris)

Medium sized with black plumage which has an iridescent green and purple sheen. Starlings are highly social, and often form large flocks called murmurations where all the birds wheel and turn as one, creating stunning aerial displays. Having said that they’re highly sociable, they are also quarrelsome – hence the vulgaris bit of their Latin name!

Collared Dove
(Streptopelia decaocto)

A medium sized bird, sleeker than a pigeon and I always think they have much nicer manners. The body is pale buff with a pinkish hue on the breast and dark flight feathers. They also have a distinctive black half collar marking on the neck. Often seen perching on trees or rooftops, they have a gentle cooing call. 

These are just a few examples of bird species commonly found in churchyards during summer. Bird populations and type can vary widely across the county as well as the country, depending on the location and habitat surrounding the churchyard. Certainly, at St John’s there is a dearth of warblers (summer visitors), with just one Chiffchaff heard calling to date. It’s always an exciting experience to explore nature and observe the diverse avian life in these serene settings.

To date, Corby Glen churchyard has seen a total of 31 species, listed here.