Blackbirds and hedgehogs

Stabby’s back! Stabby the blackbird has finally let her offspring visit the Place Where Sultanas Appear. Or rather, she looked at me cutely until I gave her some sultanas while her two fledglings skulked at the end of the garden. Once she felt she had a big enough mouthful she flew off to feed the brood and I haven’t seen her since. At least this time I got some photos:

Stabby the blackbird

The garden’s been busy for hedgehogs this week. I usually see them at about 10.30pm and the other day there were two – a big one and a little one – eating scraps from under the bird table. Two days ago the small one was out at 11am. Hedgehogs are nocturnal, so I know this isn’t normal behaviour. Last month I saw something very strange – the large hedgehog was making snorting noises and walking in a circle around the small one, who was rotating on the spot in order to keep facing the big one. They did this for ages and eventually I got bored and went to bed leaving them to their strange ritual.

"If I hide my head you won't see me"

Now that I had witnessed two bits of hedgehog behaviour I hit the internet to find out what was going on. You won’t be surprised to hear that the snorting ritual is hedgehog mating behaviour. Apparently they can do this for hours. The male does all the circling but you can’t tell a hedgehog’s sex by its size – sometimes the male is bigger, sometimes the female.


The daytime visit turned out to be something I should worry about. One website claimed that all hedgehogs seen out in daylight are either sick or injured. Another website more helpfully suggested that daytime hedgehogs may not be finding enough food at night, and showed how you can tell if a hedgehog is underweight. What you do is roll the hog onto its back. If it looks round it’s OK, if it is longer than it is wide it’s underweight. I saw it (her?) again that evening and she passed the weight test. I don’t think she was particularly appreciative of my concern.

As my hedgehogs are not starving, I’m guessing the daytime activity is due to the dry weather: slugs and snails hide up during dry spells so the hogs are probably finding it hard to find food. We’re due rain from tonight so they won’t need to live off bird food for too much longer.


About Yasmine

After working with horses for many years I came to my senses and got a 'proper job'. I now live in Weardale with My Taller Half, a mad border collie and 5 chickens. Still wishing I could spend all my time in the great outdoors
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3 Responses to Blackbirds and hedgehogs

  1. Helen says:

    Lovely photo’s Yasmine

  2. Pingback: Do blackbirds worship a God of Worms? | Muddy Tracks

  3. Val Erde says:

    I personally wouldn’t pick up or handle a wild creature unless it was severely injured, as I feel it’s interfering with nature. (But that’s just me.)

    If it’s any help, last year we were visited by a family of hedgehogs, a mum and – I think – three babies. They came each day during daylight hours and they sunbathed. They enjoyed sunbathing, too. I mean, there is plenty of cover in our garden where they could have chosen to get out of the sun had they wanted to, but they didn’t. They chose to be in the sun. As for them not finding enough food at night, we fed them every day and every night, too. Their preference was for sunlight when the babies were very small and for evening and then late night the older they got.

    Personally I think that a lot of advice given online by so called experts is rubbish (mind you, mine could be too!) For instance, Robins which are daytime birds frequently stay up most of the night, providing there is some light nearby (streetlamps seem fave but I suppose house lights or garden lights will do too) and sing during the night. I’ve seen bats before the light’s completely gone and have seen owls in broad daylight. I think all species have times when they go completely against what it is ‘said’ they should do.

    One of our baby hedgehogs was run over, unfortunately, but one of the babies came every day for weeks and we’re hoping he will come out of hibernation fine soon. (All assuming his choice of spot for hibernation was somewhere wise).

    We fed our hedgies mealworms and gave them a saucer of water. Some people feed them dogfood. They shouldn’t have milk, apparently. (Though apparently they also shouldn’t have bread, but ours were happy to eat… brioche, would you believe!)

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