Hello from Barnstaple UK

Hello and Season’s Greetings. It is a pleasure to find this thread. I live in Barnstaple and have a medium sized garden. At times there were around 30 house sparrows in my garden this summer. I don’t know how many families there were but there were some gorgeous fledglings. I am also blessed by visiting long tailed tits, robin, blackbird, starling, blue tit, great tit etc........

But why do the sparrows squabble so much? Plenty of food to go round. Sibling rivalry? Such a din when they are ‘chatting’ too and I love it all. 

I realise I should have cleaned out the nesting boxes [probably unused as yet by birds] but the sparrows keep pecking at something in them. Could it be a spider’s web or something else? And should I leave well alone? I was researching why the sparrows seem to be collecting nesting material now and found this amazing site.

Many thanks.

Christine PS Being serenaded by a song thrush.......life is good 

  • Hello Christine and welcome to the community forum, we're a very relaxed group of people so pull up a chair and join us as it's a pleasure to hear about your lovely garden and all the beautiful birds it attracts.    I recently moved from a large acre garden where we got a huge variety of birds including Jays, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, various Tit members, Treecreeper and even a semi resident Grey Wagtail as we had a pond which attracted it to our garden.   We also had the Long Tailed Tits you are also fortunate enough to see in your garden.    We never got House Sparrows until we moved into a temporary rental property so I always envied folk that got these delightful chirping birds who do have a habit of squabbling, even when there's plenty of food around !    As for your nest boxes, the sparrows will probably be seeking out spiders and other insects;    some birds may roost in boxes if the weather is particularly cold, however, being quite mild at the moment I would imagine if you could get the boxes down, give them a good scrub out with hot soapy water and then thoroughly rinse and air dry indoors before putting them back in situ as soon as they are dry,   all should be fine.      I would think it a little too early for the sparrows to be collecting nesting material but they may be using it to make a cosy roosting space and may use a nesting box although they tend to stick in communities.   Glad you have a song thrush too, they are beautiful birds to see and especially to hear their song.      

    Thanks again for a lovely first post and glad you found the forum.   Look forward to hearing more about your garden visitors.      

    One thing I nearly forgot,     a lot of birds and especially Long Tailed Tits love raw pastry which can be made cheaply with supermarket own brand flour, lard  (half fat to flour ratio),  leave out the salt but add such things as a little seed, kibbled peanuts, suet pellets and bind together with just enough water to pull the pastry together without it being sticky.   You can place bits of raw pastry on the twigs around your garden or place some in a fat cake or fat ball feeder.    If you have any mild cheddar cheese you can grate a half handful and add that to the mix as they love it but I don't put too much in as cheese does contain salt which is bad for birds/wildlife;  in small quantities it is fine.  

    Here's an old photo showing one of the long tailed tits enjoying the raw pastry !

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    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • Hello Christine, welcome from me up in the very far north of Scotland, in Caithness. Birding is a wonderful past time, and you certainly seem to be having lots of lovely visitors. We have the sparrows and they do love to chatter in the bushes. The pastry is always a favourite hit, once they find it they will not leave!! The boxes will most probably be used for roosting in, keeping out of the wet and windy weather. As Hazel says, it should be okay for you to clean them out now and then they can have a nice house to keep cosy in! Enjoy being here, any questions and there will always be someone at hand for advice.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Hi Christine i have just joined this communilty myself and there doesnt seem too much going on here at moment ! We live in Lancashire and near a town centre so we rely on our bird feeders in our small garden to bring in the birds ! Sparrows are a very communal bird they tend to nest close together and feed together all birds in winter seem to gather together to feed more so than in summer ! At the moment we have two feeders with mixed seed in and one with sunflower hearts ! These will get emptied in one day mostly by sparrows then we also have the usual greenfinch goldfinches chaffinches blue tits coal tits great tits wrens robins starlings and even pigeons try feeding off the feeders ! Regarding cleaning nest boxes we have found that if you disturb a nest box to clean it the birds tend to keep well away afterwards . Birds do clean out nests and i know people say you should clean the nest boxes but we have found doing so detrimental to the box being used again ! Wishing you a happy new year
  • Hi Steve, welcome to the community from Caithness, up at the very top of Scotland. You have a nice selection of garden birds there. Sunflower hearts are a firm favourite with ours and Niger (thistle seed) others find this not so. I always clean out the boxes around October time, ready for the birds to use as a roost in cold, wet, windy nights and as a nesting box in the Spring. They have been used in following years. Enjoy being here, always someone around for any help or advice that you may need.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.