The dunnock (pictured), one of those 'little brown jobs' so familiar in our gardens is extremely common this year. Formerly known as the hedge sparrow, it is no relation of true sparrows.

There are several territories locally with males singing their rapid somewhat wren-like jumble of scratchy notes mainly in early morning.

Many birds, especially larger species pair for life but not so the dunnock. He is a real 'Jack-the-lad' of the birdworld, a bit of a philanderer in fact, indulging in a string of affairs among the equally receptive ladies of the hedgerow.

He feeds his incubating mate and visits other nests too but, fledglings will have no idea if he is their real father or one of their 'uncles'.

Swallows have a similarly flighty nature. Next month we will welcome home my x-factor winners of the avian world, those beautiful bluebirds. Males arrive first after their epic six thousand mile flight from the Capetown reedbeds and establish loose territories. When females fly in they will search for a mate and are impressed by one sporting long tail streamers, clearly a fit choise for a partner.

Nesting begins, however,there will be much fratnernising and sneaky visits among both sexes of a swallow colony and when the young hatch in any one nest there could be youngsters born of different dads!

The thought of such goings on may be rather hard for us to swallow but their share and share alike habits are nature's way of maximising the benefits of a deeper more varied gene pool and boosting chances of nestlings thriving with both uncles and aunts calling to feed them.