Goldilocks And The Two Sparrows

Goldilocks And The Two Sparrows

Posted by Eric Dempsey, With 2 Comments,

Last Saturday, Hazel was sure that she heard a noise coming from our ‘camera nest box’ on the wall outside.


Last year, a Blue Tit started to build a nest but, with such dreadful weather during May, she abandoned before she laid any eggs. It was dreadful to watch her on our TV screen as she hunkered down in a raging storm during that horrible month. Rain and gale force winds swept in from the north-west soaking the poor bird as she roosted overnight. It was too much for her. By the morning, she was gone and the nest box was not used again.


A Big Surpise

This spring we had high hopes that perhaps she would return and that a pair of Blue Tits would again attempt to nest. With Hazel hearing activity, we linked up the box to the TV, turned it on and were delighted to see that a new nest was well and truly underway with layers of feathers and grass already lining the cup. Then we got a big surprise…a male House Sparrow arrived in and began to flap his wings in order to arrange the feathers into the cup. We have House Sparrows nesting in our camera box…not Blue Tits!


Now, for some, this might be a disappointment but not for me. You see, House Sparrows are in decline and I just love the cheerful sound of these colourful birds (ok, not as colourful as Blue Tits I accept but when was the last time you really looked and took in the beauty of a House Sparrow?…go on, take a look…they are gorgeous birds). As well as that, I have been watching Blue Tits in nest boxes for years and having the opportunity to watch nesting House Sparrows is new for me.


It is interesting to see that the male as well as the female is very active in nest building and arranging the lining. In Blue Tits, it’s the female that does most of the work. We watched the male try to fit a large pigeon feather into the lining. He was at it for about 30 min but he just couldn’t get it to sit properly so he eventually took it out and threw it away. He almost looked really frustrated by it all. They have even brought in shreds of a bright green tennis ball as lining for the nest (courtesy of Suzie, our Springer Spaniel, who likes to tear tennis balls apart).


An Even Bigger Surprise

Anyway, we were delighted that our box was being used and surprised that it was a pair of House Sparrows and not Blue Tits. That evening we returned from a night out and turned on the TV to see if a bird might be roosting overnight. Sure enough, we could make out the shape of a bird asleep. Often the female will roost inside the box just before she lays her eggs. We were again delighted. However, can you imagine our shock when the bird, which we took to be the female sparrow, lifted it’s head? This was no sparrow…it was a Blue Tit! We had a Blue Tit roosting in the box!


What's Going On?

I have never seen the likes of it. Each night since then, this little Blue Tit comes in to the nest box at around 7.30pm and settles down for the night. Each day, the House Sparrows add more lining and feathers to the nest. So, what is going on?


Is the Blue Tit trying to secure the box for nesting season ahead? Or, is it simply using the box to roost each night? Has it been using this box throughout the whole winter? What must it think when it arrives each night to find a new selection of cosy feathers to keep it warm? What must the House Sparrows think? Each morning they come into the nest box to find that ‘someone has been sleeping in their bed’!


Last night was the same…the Blue Tit slept well. I wonder just how long Goldilocks the Blue Tit will keep this up before being caught by the House Sparrows. Watch this space……..




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