Autumn 1912 – The bossy sparrow.
Another curious incident was related by another man, a very old wild-fowler of the place. He said that when he was a young man living in his home a number of martins bred every year on his cottage.
They thought a great deal of their martins and were proud to have them there, and every spring he used to put up a board over the door to prevent the entrance from being messed up by the birds. One spring a pair of martins made their nest just above the door and had no sooner completed it than a pair of sparrows stepped in and took possession and at once began to lay eggs.
The martins made no fight at all, but did not go away; they started making a fresh nest as close up as they could against the old one.
The entrance to the new nest was made to look the same way as the first, so that the back part was built up against the front of the other. It was quickly made and when completed quickly blocked up the entrance of the old nest.
The sparrows had disappeared; he wondered why after taking the nest that did not belong to them they had allowed themselves to be pushed out in this way.
At the end of the season, after the departure of the martins, he got up to remove the board, and the double nest looked so curious he thought he would take this down too and examine it.
On breaking the closed nest open he was astonished to find the hen sparrow in it, a feathered skeleton still sitting on four eggs.
This is an extract from ‘Adventures Among Birds’ by W H Hudson