For the last few years, I have been documenting the success and failure of the colony I've been lucky enough to have here. It was already here when we moved in 2012, but was barely clinging on, with the one active nest. The other being predated by a GSW in the days or weeks before completion date. The other nest subsequently failed as a feeding adult was predated by a sparrowhawk I was busy taking photos of!
The last two years of reports are 2019 and 2018. As per those reports, as well as GSW and sparrowhawk issues there was one magpie issue one year (badly sited artificial nest over the garage when visiting adult got caught unawares). But, by far the worst problems were caused by house sparrows. Further reports by other people include this, this and this.
This Spring started off with the highest house sparrow count since we arrived eight years ago. I didn't feed over Winter. They had a huge amount of young last year when I also didn't feed them.
They started nesting around the time the rain finally relented. However, other than one nest in a dense hedge, I've not seen any adults feeding or heard any chicks. Weather/heat related???
They did take nesting material into at least four nests. Both swift boxes and two martin nests (one natural and one artificial).
For this year, I'll re-label the nests as some of the nests came down since the 2018 & 2019 posts were written. Some of those have been rebult in the same place either from scratch, or repaired. Others haven't.
Nest 1. The most successful nest over the last few years. Also, the one predated by a GSW in 2012. The hole can possibly be made out in the photo and was repaired with mud by the birds several years ago and been fine since. Currently not used in 2020 and I've not seen an adult enter it yet either.
Nest 2 is still under construction. Its entrance appears to be on the side nearest the alarm box. It is next to Nest 3 which currently isn't in use. Nest 3 has had sparrows going in earlier in the year but not in recent months.
Nest 4 is next to the concrete nest. I'll label concrete nest Nest C and am not expecting it to be referred to again as it's never been used. I did see an adult looking carefully into that concrete nest, but decided against it. Maybe the edge of the entrance is too rough, and it does look a fairly tight fit, but not necessarily smaller than other real nests. Nest 4 appears just about finished and its entrance is towards the concrete nest. I am hoping its restricted access will help protect it from sparrows.
Nest 5 and nest 6 are also in the picture. Nest 5, like nest 4 is a repaired nest from last year. It's of the 'no entrance' design. The adults squeeze in anywhere along the small gap. Nest 6 is an artificial nest. It was bieng used by sparrows in Spring but the nest failed. I did see a male sparrow caught by a sparrowhawk and the timing suggests it was the male using that nest. Hard to know as there were, and still are, a lot of sparrows about. It failed at that time though. It was the first nest to be taken up by martins. Therefore, it should be the first to hatch. I am almost certain it currently has eggs. Nest 4 & 5 may just about be at the laying stage, or in 5's case, slightly after. Another photo of C, 4, 5 & 6 below.
Lastly, nests I'm calling 7 and 8. Neither are currently in use. They are often the primary battleground due to being close to a 'swift' nestbox that sparrows take over every year. I ensured there was no access to it for sparrows this Winter so no immediate danger to martin nests. However, at the moment, there are no takers for either nest. In previous years, they were both preferred to the other artifical nests apart from nest 1.
The one final thought is that next door has martins too. One nest remained from last year. Two more are under construction. What is interesting is the battleground seems to have moved there for the time being.
"Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again"
Brilliant documenting and photos Robbo, I look forward to reading the follow posts.
Flickr Peak Rambler
Nest 4 is now house sparrow nest 4. I know it was fine first thing this morning. This afternoon, one, or possibly two undeveloped eggs were broken underneath the nest. I have since seen two sparrows go into the nest and one took bits of dry grass in with it.
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