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Home > Bird Food Blog > Armchair Naturalist - Strange goings-on

Armchair Naturalist - Strange goings-on

Tuesday, 16th June 2020

My neighbour’s house has for many years been the home for a small group of house sparrows, noisy, bolshy and entertaining.
House sparrow

They (the house sparrows) usually start quite early getting their home suitable for their annual brood.

A few weeks later, my annual visit of House Martins arrived and I set about repairing and modifying last year's nest for their occupation.

All went well for a while and both sparrows and House Martins produced several offspring. (The human houses are roughly 10' (imperial) apart).

Evenings were a joy for me, with twittering by House Martins (bird world bedtime stories), absolutely fabulous birds.
 
House Martins

The young of both species were growing and space decreasing for both families.

A few days later the sparrows were becoming quite agitated over something and were kicking up a rumpus, the males especially. I found a seat and decided to find out what was going on!!

And did I get a shock. The House Sparrow flew on to the flat wall face of my house, about two metres below the House Martin nest, climbed the remaining distance and into their nest. I don't need to explain what happened next, nor what happened to my family of House Martins. Both parents and three babies were killed. Within a day or two, the male sparrow moved in and had created a hole in the bottom of the House Martin nest for access. one of the Sparrows was still lodging there in January of this year.

I am now waiting to see if the sparrows will nest there - probably not but neither do I expect a new House Martin to arrive.

After years of these two species, seemingly to live in peace together, I wonder what went wrong, or perhaps this is a regular occurrence…

Update 9th May:

Further interesting goings-on at House Martin villa, much to my surprise and delight I was amazed yesterday when three Martins visited the semi-destroyed nest from last year. All three were there for quite a while, I know the female is fussy where she has her home. I am now waiting to see what happens next. Hopefully, a new nest full of young Martins.
 
Blue Tit

Blue Tit family are busy, looking forward to seeing the babies fledge.

One worrying thing this year, my garden is full of wild geraniums and other nectar laden flowers for the bees, and there are very few bumblebees and hive bees, hopefully, this will change.

If there is one good thing to emerge from this COVID horror, is that the human race will come to its senses and stop poisoning this fabulous planet that we all live on.

Further update 22nd May:

The latest on my House Martins is that they did arrive at their nesting site on the side of my house, much to my delight. They have reared families for a few years, and they are a joy to observe. I quietly observed them for a couple of days, and they were busy repairing and making ready for a new family. But unfortunately, the sparrows arrived and recreated the hole in the bottom of the nest, making it impossible for the House Martins to continue with their repairs. What happens now I wait to find out, but I doubt if I will have any House Martins.

Best wishes to you all and stay safe.

Elizabeth

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