Wednesday, 19 November 2014

It's Official: We Are Now Sparrow Central

Sorry for the gap between posts- I am up to my eyeballs at the mo and I doubt it will get any quieter over the next few weeks.

You may or may not remember that when we moved here eight years ago there were no Sparrows. It's a subject I've waffled on about here before because House Sparrow populations have been seriously declining during the last fifty years and they are now a species of concern. Anyhoo, there were none here when we arrived. A year or two later a solitary male turned up one morning and hung around, and the following Spring his faith (and mine) was rewarded when my friend Mrs Sparrow flew down onto the hedge and decided to marry him.

They set up home inside our house, excavating a hole in the wall beneath the eaves and building a nest inside the cavity, and there they raised a couple of broods. All the kids buggered off in due course but Mr and Mrs S remained, and the following year they repeated the exercise and had two more broods. All of these chicks disappeared too (they survived, they just didn't hang about).

I despaired of ever getting a colony.

The third year some of the chicks from the previous batch did reappear and took care of that year's fledglings from the first batch. I thought it was interesting behaviour and not something I had witnessed before, but perhaps this is normal for Sparrows who are gregarious little birds and generally live in big flocks.

Long story short: two or three broods were hatched this year (Sparrows are clever soles and reduce the number of eggs per batch if food is scarce so the babies have a better chance of surviving) and when the last lot fledged off they all went into the fields as per and I thought, well at least they are hatching them, even if the colony doesn't appear to be staying together, but then a month ago they reappeared and remained in and around the garden, and this time I counted 19.

They sit in the hedge and make a right old racket and they eat all the bird seed, but this is a good thing really because it's a healthy colony and as I said Sparrows have disappeared from a great many of their previous haunts.

So I've been quietly celebrating this ecological and habitat success story but even I (ever optimistic) wasn't fully prepared for what would happen next.

I glanced out of the kitchen window Monday late afternoon and the garden was covered in Sparrows. There were at least 50, I kid you not. Where had they all come from? Rather typically, as soon as I reached for the camera the large group took off and they didn't resettle on the ground in quite those numbers, but hopefully the following will give you some impression what it was like....








The other garden visitors were a little bit miffed by this invasion to say the least, and the Collar Doves (usually the most mild mannered of people) stood their ground determinedly when it came to picking up the seeds from the floor :o)

The GSWs are back, as are the Nuthatches, which is a God Send to me, because I am missing all the inverts who've either died off or tucked themselves up for winter. And of course Nate, the baby grass snake, has also gone to sleep somewhere and is no where to be found, so the reappearance of all the birds in the garden does my heart good....











Today, we are back to the normal 19 in Sparrow-Terms. I have no idea where all the others are, but at least it looks like the colony is a stable one and perhaps Sparrow Terrace will finally get some inhabitants next year...

Hope all are well?

CT :o)

30 comments:

  1. When I moved to this house 30 years to one another ago, House Sparrows would come 3 times a day to a Holly bush at the front garden even though i had feeders in the front garden, they were only there for a chat. I always had feeder in the back garden however only a few ever came to them however over the past year, I have had a lot of Sparrows at the back feeder although they still come for their chat in the Holly bush. Of course, I do not know whether they are the small sparrows in front and back garden. Anyhow, it was interesting to hear about your Sparrow colony.

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    1. It's fascinating watching their behaviour isn't it? Sounds like yours have a very definite meet and greet patch and a separate one for feeding.

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  2. Long live the sparrows!!! How brilliant is this! xx

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  3. I feel almost guilty to say we are inundated with sparrows here, always have been. Starlings too, I believe they too are in serious decline. We often see starlings perform their 'murmurings' during the autumn. You must be doing something quite right with your sparrows there & are being well rewarded.

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    1. Now I'm REALLY jealous- starlings murmuring is a rare sight these days- the RSPB even have a dedicated phone line with up to date sightings for them at the mo. Lucky you :o)

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  4. We seem to have a family of sparrows every year under the eaves, just above our kitchen windows. If I stand on a chair, I can sometimes see the tiny baby sparrows with their big mouths wide open waiting for food. I wonder if it's always the same family? They've been coming back for years.

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    1. Most wild birds have a life expectancy of around 5 years, so it's likely to be offspring of the originals using a good nest site, depending on how many years you've observed them for. I love having them in our wall- you can hear them chatting away to each other and their children in the summer.

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  5. Oh my goodness, I just love all those little sparrows, you will not be able to hear yourself talk soon with the cheerful noise they make.
    I know you'll be interested to know that we had a spotted woodpecker on top of the tree outside in the street today, I heard this constant noise and there he was, not sure what you call him, is it a lesser spotted or something? such a long beak, even from where we were.
    Made my day.
    Briony
    x

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    1. Probably a Greater Spotted Woodie (the one in the pic on the post above is a Greater), simply because the Lessers are rare, but it may have been a Lesser if you're in the right spot for them. I've not seen one here before and would love to. Well done you :o)

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  6. We have sparrows in our privets at the front and back of the house. They have always been here, and I love listening and watching them . I have been watching as the birds return to the garden. It is a joyful distraction as I load the washing machine. Loving your nuthatch btw. What a beauty
    Leanne xx

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    1. This is very interesting- it is sounding like sparrow pops are recovering for lots of people. I shall investigate further xx

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  7. Wonderful photos... we too were lacking in sparrows a few years ago... but no longer.. over the last couple of years the numbers have grown, until I've given up counting them as there are too many. Lovely to see, our hedge is a live with them. It was great watching them dust bath in our veg plot over summer :o)

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    1. Great news about your sparrows Julie- it does sound like lots of people now see them. I wonder if this is a general trend? :o)

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  8. I love watching the sparrows in our garden. There has never been a sparrow shortage in my part of the world, we've always had loads and we still do now, in our garden - they live in the hedges!

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    1. Fantastic news about your sparrows too, Louise. I'm so pleased to hear they do well with you. They seem to like hedges! :o)

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  9. Funny isn't it, how the whole crew have suddenly returned in the last week or so, eating us out of house and home already. Still no sparrows, but willow (marsh?) tits perching on the window glazing bars within an inch of my nose certainly makes up for it.

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    1. Ah now, that's interesting because our Willow/ Marsh haven't turned up yet this winter. I worked out the calls btw- one of them sneezes, and whichever one it is is the one we've got! (will have to go now and double check....) x

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  10. It's Sparrow central here too CT and please don't worry about not posting....it's a relief for me as I miss so much of your stuff through lack of time to read it! Gorgeous pics, particularly of the Nuthatch.xxx

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    1. Thanks Em. I'm about to pop over and catch up with you- have been behind on reading this week too! Hope all's well xx

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  11. We have a good many sparrows in the garden and I was thrilled to have a blackbirds nest in our elder this year. Last year we had bullfinches which was thrilling. I am concerned though about the lack of wildlife in our surrounding countryside, I walk in the fields almost everyday and they do seen empty and bereft of life.
    Shauna.x

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    1. Am envious of your bullfinches. We see them occasionally here. Such lovely birds. Great news about your sparrows too. Farmland birds have really suffered in recent years and there are moves afoot to legislate to help them recover. x

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  12. Great news on the House Sparrows and lovely photos. We still get up to about 20 here and they breed in holes in the eaves but we don't get as many as we used to. Starlings have more or less disappeared from the garden. There used to be dozens each day but for years now have only had half a dozen visits a year usually from lone individuals :(

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    1. I'm wondering whether starlings aren't now faring worse than sparrows? I don't see many here either. Hopefully changes to farmland conservation areas will help them.

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  13. We're lucky to have quite a few sparrows around. I've never seen a nuthatch though, your photos of it are lovely. It's such a shame sparrow numbers are dwindling, they are such lively little birds.

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    1. We have a pair of Nuthatches who are regular visitors over the winter and spring- such lovely little birds. I have never seen any of their babies though. Thanks for the comment, CJ :o)

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  14. I am very envious of your photo of the woodpecker, this year for the first time ever I have one visiting our garden and eating from the bird feeder. When I spot it I run to get the camera and of course it's gone by then.

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    1. They are notoriously difficult to photograph which is why the pic is blurry- it's cropped from the top of the garden. Last year I contorted myself to get close ups!

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  15. We don't get any birds in our garden, probably because of the five cats lol. I love looking at your pictures they're beautiful. I know this sounds crazy (well I am slightly mad) but every time a Robin looks at me someone I know dies. I take it as they're little messengers. Told you, I'm barking!!! lol x

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    1. Not crazy at all. White feathers falling from the sky can be a similar thing (not deaths but messages). xx

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x