Mission: bird attack

Discover whether birds can save our conker trees, by recording how many of the leaf-mining moths have suffered bird attacks.

This mission began in 2013 in response to questions posed by people participating in Conker Tree Science. From now on we are not collecting the results, but we have left the information here particularly for school teachers who want to do the project with their class (it is ideal for key stages 2, 3 and 4).

All you need is:

  • a few minutes looking at a conker tree which has leaves that have been damaged by the leaf mining moth.
  • take part any time durign the summer and early autumn (September is often ideal)
  • you don't need to watch the birds themselves

Your mission in brief:

  • Find your infected conker tree (see here for help with tree identification). 
    Record any information you will need to find the tree on a map.  If you can't find a conker tree that is infected, please complete Mission: alien moth survey instead.
  • Select a leaf that is within your reach and look at the whole leaf (all of the 'fingers' of the hand-like leaf).
  • Count the number of bird attacks.
  • Give the leaf a damage score.
  • Choose three other leaves from different parts of the same tree, and do the same (count bird attacks and give the leaf a damage score).

Download detailed instructions




Can blue tits save our conkers? Birds, such as blue tits attack the alien moths damaging conker trees.
(photo: Richard Broughton)


Bird attacks are very distinctive. Here the top surface of the leaf, where the alien moth caterpillar was hiding, has been torn away by a bird.
(photo: Michael Pocock)