The Attack of the Sparrows

For a few days now little white feathers have been appearing on the lawn at the front of the house – and in the back garden too. We were a bit worried that our cat had been catching birds, but mice are her preferred option. We were wrong – it wasn’t down to Heidi.

This year our house has been home to four lots of house martins, with four families in four nests, one at each of the gable ends and a fourth on the front wall of the house built over the cover of an extractor. These birds have been dazzling us with their spectacular aerobatics as they’ve been swooping and sailing above us high in the sky most of the summer, catching the insects that love to bite me. Needless to say I love house martins.

I don’t know how many broods they’ve had but there are still fledglings in the nest at the front. According the RSPB they can have up to three broods and I suspect each of the families have done that this year. They’ve made quite a mess on the walls and window sills with their droppings.

The puzzle of the feathers on the lawn was solved the other day when we saw two sparrows attacking the nest, pulling out feathers and poking around inside the nest – and the fledglings were still inside. I never knew what aggressive little beggars house sparrows are! The RSPB site tells that they often damage house martins’ nests and even attack adults, eggs and young birds. This attack was rebuffed by the house martins and the sparrows flew off – but there are more white feathers around this morning, the war continues.

Sparrow on HM nest

11 thoughts on “The Attack of the Sparrows”

  1. Geez, sounds brutal! Our cat is a very good hunter, so I always suspect him when feathers show up. It wouldn’t have occurred to me that sparrows would attack like that.

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  2. I didn’t know that about sparrows either. House martins are rarer here, but sought after to help them in the migratory routes – our gardening stores sell little houses for them. Now I feel badly for the little birds that the sparrows are attacking! Glad it wasn’t your cat, they are always the first ones I blame, too.

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  3. We call them purple martins here, and we have an “apartment house” on a tall, slightly tipsy pole to encourage them to stay here. We also have barn swallows who nest in and around our out-buildings. I love the martins, and they love me when I use our riding mower to stir up plenty of bugs for their dinner. Their aerobatics are spectacular. I haven’t seen sparrows attack them, but then I think the sparrows are outnumbered on our land. We really must straighten up that pole in the spring! lol

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