line.gif - 1064 Bytes

Spring Cleaning

Saturday, 8th February 2003, West Yorkshire

feathersstarlings at nestAs I back the car out of the garage this morning I notice untidy tufts of chicken breast feathers and other assorted unsavory debris scattered over the drive. I look up and see that it's liberally sprinkled down the garage roof as well. A starling is turfing out the old nesting material left in the hole at the corner of the guttering and the barge boarding by the house sparrows which occupied this penthouse nesting apartment last year. It comes out of the hole with a cobwebby beakful shakes it's head and down drifts another wisp of avian rubbish.

starling singingLater, as I sit here in the studio trying to write some e-mails, just to emphasise who is in charge at the corner site one of the occupying pair, it must be the male, comes and sits singing and whistling at the entrance, watched by his admiring matewho is perched on the end of the gutter. This racket is going on just four yards from my right ear just outside the skylight window of the studio (which is built above the garage, by the way) as I sit here at the computer trying to get inspired with just the right words to use in my message.

male house sparrowAs I try to get back to work I can't help noticing a movement and I see one of the starlings flying off with a bigger load to dispose of hanging from its beak, leaving the hole unattended.

Soon a pair of sparrows appear on the scene looking decidedly surreptitious. This isn't helping me get through my e-mails. They look to the right and the left, above and below. Satisfied that the coast is clear the female soon has her head in the door and is having a good look around. The male is female house sparrowlooking pretty worried as he peers down at her. She hops in; at first her tail protrudes then that disappears inside too. The male perches nervously on the threshold. He probably realises that she'll expect him to be the one who will fight off two irate starlings, nearly twice his size, if they return unexpectedly.

Will these nosy neighbours gazzump the starlings? I'll let you know! next page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,