Sunday, August 25

Do blackbirds use anvils?

I was doing a bit of weeding on the plot when I came across this. I have cheated a little and collected the broken snail shells together but they were all scattered around the large stone in the photograph.
Now I know that song thrushes use large stones as an anvil on which to smash snail shells so they can devour what they consider to be a tasty morsel, however I haven't noticed any song thrushes on our plot recently.

Now it's quite another story where blackbirds are concerned. We have lots probably attracted to all our soft fruit!
They sing to us from the top of a conifer on the plot and squawk at us when we are stealing 'their' fruit. So my question is - do blackbirds use stones as anvils in the same way as their song thrush cousins do?
Or have we a secretive song thrush in the area? I do hope so.

We regularly find snail debris near to a stone so this isn't a one-off occurrence. 

Whichever bird is responsible I hope it continues to dine on our garden pests, I won't be moving the stone and hope the fact that we have uncovered the redcurrants to let the birds in won't put them off their pest control activities. Snail for the meat course and redcurrants for dessert should be just the job for a discerning bird.

Back in the garden we regularly find empty snail shells. Often these are scattered but these caches were found in and around the cold frame which is unfortunately a snail party venue.

The first is a pile of damaged shells.
These weren't smashed to bits like the ones on the plot and there was no anvil nearby so was this another bird?

This pile was under netting and so not easily accessible to birds (although they are resourceful creatures) but we do find frogs in the cold frame. They somehow manage to find a way in under the netting.
I have read that frogs would also eat the snail shells, but would they winkle the snails out of their shells? This cache of shells was found intact minus snail occupants. If they had died a natural death I wouldn't expect the shells to be so clean.
So what type of creatures are assisting us in our fight against slugs? Is it blackbirds, robins, song thrushes, frogs, mice or hedgehogs? Maybe a mixed army of allies - whoever it is "Keep up the good work guys!" 

Update:
Martyn came face to beak with a song thrush on the plot today - case solved - great to have one around.


21 comments:

  1. I know that Blackbirds do use anvils, but the clean and empty snail shells are a mystery to me too. Maybe something sucks them out! Time for the CCTV maybe...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All I know is that it isn't me Mark!

      Delete
  2. Sue on my plot I have seen thrushes do that to snails and in my garden it`s the blackbirds in both cases they were using large stones as anvils

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've seen a thrush bashing a snail shell to bits, David and a blackbird wiping slime off a slug by wiping it back and forth on the grass but thanks for confirming that blackbirds use stones too.

      Delete
  3. No idea who/what is doing this, but all I can say is lucky you! My shells are always disappointingly full of snail.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WE still have more than enough whole ones left CJ :(

      Delete
  4. We don't have snails, but they must be easier to catch than grasshoppers! Do chickens like them?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure chickens would love them TPals

      Delete
  5. I think hedgehogs sounds like the best bet, though it could be a sneaky thrush. I've found similar piles and only see our thrush now and again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The plot is definitely a bird, Debbie as it is definitely using the large stone as a anvil. As for the cold frame - I don't think a hedgehog could get it there. We do have hedgehogs though

      Delete
  6. Lovely photos, Sue
    And I reckon you've got a shy song thrush somewhere about your plot

    ReplyDelete
  7. Our blackbirds use the anvil along with the thrush, crows and jackdaws. I think the blackbirds often pluck them out too....along with the crows.

    What lovely pics of the blackbird and frog.xxxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The blackbirds are offering a great service then, Snowbird

      Delete
  8. Clean and empty shells = mice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. (note to self, finish comment before hitting enter)

      We've found similar caches of clean snail shells in mouse nests (along with the squirrel hazelnuts they've nicked)

      Delete
    2. Don't mice nibble a hole?

      I have the enter problem in Facebook where you are not allowed new paragraphs

      We have found squirrel debris under our hazel bush but ours will be grey and not red!

      Delete
    3. Yes, mice gnaw a round hole in the hazelnut shells, very different to how the squirrels work so it's easy to tell the difference.

      I don't use Faceache but have you tried Ctrl/Return to force a soft line break?

      Delete
    4. The shells in the cold frame are completely whole, Bilbo so do you reckon the mice pull the snail out.

      Delete
    5. We'll set up our camera to see what happens.

      Delete
  9. We do have a thrush see update to the post :) :) :)

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment - it is great to hear from you and know that there are people out there actually reading what I write! Come back soon.
(By the way any comments just to promote a commercial site, or any comments not directly linked to the theme of my blog, will be deleted)
I am getting quite a lot of spam. It isnot published and is just deleted. I have stopped sifting through it and just delete any that ends up in my spam folder in one go so I am sorry if one of your messages is deleted accidentally.
Comments to posts over five days old are all moderated.