Monthly Archives: May 2010

There is no getting away from it …

There is no getting away from the fact that we have never had so few swallows here as we have this year.

I so hope that they are late arriving.  At this rate next year there won’t be any swallows at all.

All my life I have seen swallows come and go.  It’s part of life and marks the seasons in a small way.

Yes in another part of the country Swallow Lady says that  last year she had  more swallows than ever.

I wonder if it depends on which migratory path the swallows took.  Wouldn’t it be fascinating and helpful if we knew that.

More Interesting Swallow Observations

message from swallow lady to Garth re:swallows.  (Below is a link to the article where Garth wrote an article / comment  )
Your observations match mine completely.our swallows(now in 16th year)always nest up on the eaves in  a messy sort of garage.

they fly in through a little open window.

last year was our best ever with approx.  30 fledglings. 3 concurrent nests with 4 chicks each,and then 2 further sequences. Big Daddy with the longest forks sings to me sitting on the Sky dish when I garden.I think that’s his right as he owns the sky.We live in Wales +have a cattle opposite so lots of flies..

The house martins are very different +make the nest under eaves outside with lots of mud +produce lots of darker mess cf. the white from swallows!
I,m not” official,recorder” just a swallow lover.I do read the BTO website though.
  “swallow lady”


No I don’t mean Cuckoos

I’ve just heard of an account of blackbirds feeding robin nestlings

Two blackbirds built a nest near to a robins nest.  The robins nest was a nest box and it had a front opening.

There were 4 eggs in the robins nest and all hatched.  The robins were fed by their parents and all was well.

One morning the cock blackbird was seen carrying insects in its beak – the blackbird flew to the robins nest.  Clinging to the robins’ nest box  the blackbird fed the insects to the young robins.

Amazing.  This happened more than once. In fact it was seen that the robins had left the nest. The robin chicks were fed by the blackbird.

At night time the blackbird flew and clung to the nest box opening.  This would have been to shelter the young robins.

The young robins did fledge and the blackbird was seen feeding them for a day or two.  I don’t know if the young robins did survive.

The blackbird eggs then hatched and the blackbirds went on to rear their own brood

The person who witnessed this is so lucky to have seen this happening in front of them in their  garden.

So as well as bird eating bird – birds do care for other birds as well.

Swallows and House Martins

It is really nice to get some interesting facts about swallows and house martins.  I never thought about the difference between swallow and house martin nests.

It is worrying that not so many swallows seem to be here this year. 

From Garth  –

On  looking back to some of the reports on the breeding of these species I wonder if the nests are being identified correctly?

It is swallows that build a cup nest and usually use the interior of a building, whereas house martins is an enclosed mud structure on the outside of buildings, such as eaves or the apex of a house.

Over the twelve years I have been ringing swallows as a BTO project I have only had one occasion where a swallow nested under the eaves using the usual cup nest. This was at a site one year when there was pressure for finding a site, as there were a dozen or so pairs setting up home.

The sad fact is over all those years it is only about 30% of adults that manage to return and breed, but they regularly come back to where they first nested. The young birds have a greater failure rate and tend to not breed where they were hatched but do turn up within a 2-3 mile radius.

At the end of this month May I have one swallow nest where the eggs have hatched, and are also bit later this year in Worcestershire.


One thing is certain – less swallows means more flies


Garth replied in reply to this articlce –


It is an ongoing process – making a ground feeder that keeps crows out and lets blackbirds  in.  You may think it is simple but – crows and rooks have large beaks which can reach inside mesh.  If I make the mesh smaller the blackbirds and thrushes can’t get in.  I keep adding bits to it.

I don’t know if my feeder is very heath robinson or a work of art

There don’t seem to be as many thrushes around at the moment. Plenty of blackbirds and the other usual suspects.

Am finding it better sitting at the computer, so will start more Bird Table Notes again.  Am going for a neck Xray and so hopefully will finally get my neck ache sorted out.  I must admit though that the Pilates, Acupuncture and herbal medicine are helping me.  My lower back pain has eased since I started taking herbal medicine for my kidneys.  It seems lower back pain can sometimes be connected to the kidneys.

I got my email newsletter ready to go and then had a problem, but am sorting that out as well.

It is a lovely, sunny afternoon.  I’ve just filled the birdfeeders and the air is ringing with birdsong.  Driving up the lane a variety of birds flit in and out of the hedges and skim along the lane.


Yes i have seen this happen.   (she has seen sparrows killing sparrows!)

we have bird houses set up we love our garden sparrows and love watching them nest,but this year we had sparrows killing other sparrows and killing all oue little baby sparrows as well.

now all the sparrows have left their houses and our yard, it was a very sad thing to watch

Char sent me her story of what she had seen.   Previously she had asked about sparrows killing sparrows.   Click the link below if you would like to read it.



I replied

You have seen it happen! Can I ask where you live? The world of birds is so strange isn’t it? I know robins fight robins, and I have found out that sparrows can be thugs, but sparrows killing sparrows!! Also sparrows killing young sparrows. I wonder if some where house sparrows and some where tree sparrows. I wonder if there was a shortage of food and so they killed to get the food – but that does not really make sense does it?

I am sure it would have been sad to watch. You think of spring as being a time of re birth not a time of slaughter. Think of all the other birds that are toiling to feed their young and watch the other fledglings as they visit your garden and grow and surive. Trisha


Please get in touch if you have seen or heard of this happening.