Friday, 31 May 2013

Sparrows in the Brickwork, Pigeons in the Wisteria and a Toad in the Vegetable Patch

We've suddenly gone nesting-bird mad here. It's probably because of all my worrying earlier that there were none.
J (daughter) said she could hear lots of chirping from inside her bedroom and further investigation discovered the house sparrows have drilled a hole in the brickwork and made a nest under the eaves above her window. Given their sorry state in much of the country, and the fact there were none here when we moved seven years ago, I am completely thrilled at their presence and have been watching the nest avidly ever since.

You can just see the male sparrow leaving the nest after feeding the chicks

Mum arriving with food

I think this is possibly an "encouraging the babies to leave the nest" dance- he puffs himself up, wiggles his wings and chirrups to them

More puffing, chirruping and wiggling...

 Arriving with food in beak for the children...

Negotiating a way in to the nest...

The nest hole...

Leaving the nest at speed....

The pigeons, meanwhile, have set up home for the third year running in the wisteria beneath our bedroom window, so the house is starting to feel a bit like a bird nursery...

If last year is anything to go by they'll raise several broods of two chicks at a time in there right up until September. Unlike the sparrow children, pigeon babies are extremely quiet and remain in the nest until pretty much full grown. We like having them there, and Ted in particular is beside himself with joy at their return because he like to chase them. Luckily he has no hope of catching them at all: he makes far too much noise, and a complete spectacle of himself, all that excited yapping and leaping about. He never learns. 

The other thing he never learns is NOT TO LICK TOADS. I've just rediscovered our resident toad under a sack in the back veg patch (thought I had a photo but can't find it now). Teddy made himself very sick indeed a few years ago by licking this toad. He spent the night foaming at the mouth and retching and was a very sad and sorry doggy indeed. You would have thought that would have been enough to put him off toad-licking forever, but no- two nights later we discovered him in the garden beneath the apple tree looking very guilty with a wet toad at his feet.
Fortunately it appears the toad has more sense- he has moved into a fenced off dog-proof area of the garden where Ted can not get to him.

A couple of miscellaneous articles to finish off with: finally I have photographic evidence that we do indeed have a woodpecker pair. Here are pics of the female (no red bar), and the male (red bar at back of head- thanks to Jessica for telling me that). Given that there are two of them I wonder if children be far off  and if so, will they bring them to the garden as everyone else seems to do with their offspring?

 Finally, I am happy to report that the Goldfinches, who have been noticeable by their absence these past few days, have made a return to the garden....


Normal service has been resumed.

Have a good weekend all,

CT x 


  1. What a busy place your garden is now CT. Great captures of the House Sparrows. We have the same here. As I type this I can hear the chicks calling for more food. A few years ago we used to have lots nesting under the eaves and just inside the loft but eventually had to have repairs to the boarding etc and the workmen filled many rubbish sacks with old nests! After that there were obviously no spaces for them to get in and we saw very few sparrows around the garden. This year they have obviously found ways in again and there are lots more feeding in the garden too :-)

    Glad the toads have learnt their lesson, not sure dogs ever do ;-) Lovely to see your GSWs, they may well bring the little ones to the feeders eventually to teach them how to use them...clever, these birds!

    Great photos from your aquarium visit. I love Seahorses too, fascinating little creatures especially as it's the males who have the babies.

    1. Hi SB. Yes, it feels like a huge nursery now and I am in my element loving every minute of having so many beautiful birds around. Am v glad to hear your sparrows returned- I think they need all the help they can get at the moment.
      If we get baby woodpeckers in the garden I think I will probably explode with excitement (although quietly, so as not to scare them off).
      Perhaps husbands could learn something from Seahorses?! Talking of which, have you seen weedy sea dragons? My friend Mrs M saw some at the Weymouth aquarium so I looked them up. They are amazing looking creatures, leafy versions of Seahorses.

  2. Great pics CT!
    Delighted that you have a woodpecker pair!
    I may have told you this story already, apologies if so. But our previous house was also a thatch, and in the home counties it's normal to put chicken wire over the finished roof. A wren made a virtually impregnable nest in the straw by squeezing through the mesh, how clever was that? The babies were clearly visible with beaks stuck out waiting for food. Not that they had a perfect diet.. our builders fed them bits of their lunchtime sandwiches!

    1. Ahh fantastic tale Jessica. I love wrens, they remind me of my granny who used to draw them all the time. I wonder whether the babies forever more yearned for builder's sandwiches?!

  3. I love the way house sparrows will nest in any hole you have on the house. You've reminded me I should sit with the camera in my son's room where there's a great view of a similar nest hole to yours. Love the Goldfinch!

    1. Modern housing being less inclined to sport holes and cracks is thought to be one contributing factor to the sparrows decline- 50% in the last twenty years I read, which is deeply shocking.

  4. I love the House Sparrows. They would always be welcome to attach a nest to our house, too. Their decline is terrible after they were once the little bird that seemed to be everywhere. And poor Ted, I wonder why he still thinks it's a good idea to catch a toad?

    1. Sad news today Wendy- I'm pretty sure the nest is no more. There is no sound coming from it and the parents are around but not going in and out. M suspects a rat got to them :-(

  5. Sorry about your sparrows nest. Apparently everything is late this year, so hopefully more exciting things to come.

    1. I've just bought them a purpose-built house to fix on the wall. Just try and get in that rats!!! As you say, hopefully they will try again.

  6. It's so lovely to see all the wildlife in your garden, they have all found a welcome place to nest and visit. Sorry to hear about the sparrow nest, how sad.
    Sarah x

    1. Hi Sarah. We're doing really well for birds now and hopefully the sparrows will attempt another batch. I can't bear it when a nest is got at. CT x


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them. CT.