Bandits Have Taken Over

About the time that the barley is harvested and fields are prepared for the rice planting season the swallows return from their winter vacations in the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and other warmer places.

I know that in many countries swallows – called Tsubame here- are considered pests. Japanese welcome them. If swallows choose your home as a nesting ground it’s considered good luck and a blessing. You can buy trays to attach to the wall that catch the bird droppings.

You also become part of their family and security team. There are quite a few predators to watch-out for.

A sign that was written “from the Swallows” at Kori Station.

Two years ago we were chosen. It was early spring. I went outside to do something and noticed bird droppings and wet mud spattered on the concrete. I looked up and saw mud spattered on the side of the overhang. Suddenly there was a woosh of air over my head- a swallow! It had come to plaster more mud on the overhang when it was surprised by me standing there.

I quickly went back into the house and watched from the kitchen window as two of them flew back and forth to the overhang for hours that day.

Later I peeked out the front door and saw that there was quite a bit of mud stuck to the house already. It took them about a week to complete the nest. We had so much fun listening for little peeps!

We had our work cut out for us as guardians. Once in the late afternoon I went outside to dead head some flowers. There, curled around the lattice, was a huge snake. I was standing right next to it and didn’t notice it right away. Gah- my hair still stands up remembering it.

Hubby “relocated” the snake. I watched from the kitchen window. It had come to snatch the eggs.

Another time- early in the morning after mother swallow had flown off to feed, I chased away a huge black karasu ( raven) with my broom. It came back a few times! They destroy the nest and eat the eggs or the baby birds.

One of the fledglings peeking out..

We lost one egg to a predator one night so we took turns checking on them in the wee hours of the morning. That first year we had three fledglings!

The second year they returned! We were delighted! Mama bird was busy repairing some places of the nest that had crumbled a bit. A couple of weeks later she finally settled in on her eggs.

And then… disaster.

Early one morning I went outside and saw a chuck of the nest. It lay smashed on the concrete but the worst part was … the eggshells. Mama swallow was no where to be found. I cried. I felt like we had failed her. At first we thought it was a snake but the nest location would make it pretty difficult for a snake to do this much damage. It must have been a raven.

Mama swallow came a few times but there were no babies that year. She flew off and never returned.

And then one morning I saw a tail sticking out of the nest… suddenly up popped a sparrow! Sparrows are also enemies of the swallows-so we heard but we didn’t think they would destroy the nest! They destroyed it and took over what was left!

The half ruined nest- full of holes. poor foto-sorry

The nest is run-down and full of holes. A huge chunk is missing and it’s now inhabited by bandits! The sparrows have moved in.

There are two of them in that nest. We can see their tail feathers sticking through the holes in the side. I wonder if there are eggs? No idea. My husband was upset and wanted to take the nest down but I said… no. Just leave it. This is nature. I’m not happy our swallow family was chased away but I won’t destroy the sparrow’s home.

If they have young I’ll upgrade here on the blog.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with sparrows. Have you ever had sparrows nest at your home?

8 thoughts on “Bandits Have Taken Over

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  1. I understand your feelings for the swallows, but like you say, it is nature. I see magpies these days that try to nest here in the garden, but a pair of crows is not happy about it. I think they tried to stop them, because the magpies started a new nest again and again. Now they seem to be successful. The swallows are so cute and I hope they will return one day to your house! Until then enjoy the sparrows, that are cute too 🙂 The nest of the swallows is fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hallo! Thank you so much for your comment! Before I responded I wanted to study a bit and see if we have magpies in our area here. I read that there is a blue-winged magpie native to Japan but my husband said he’s never seen one. I’ll have to keep a look out. We too hope that the swallows return someday….I think the sparrows might have eggs!

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      1. I looked for it. What a beautiful bird! Eggs, that would be so nice. It is always such a joy to see them growing. I once had Blackbirds (Turdus merula) nesting on my balcony on the 3rd floor. It was so enjoyable to watch! I hope you can see them growing too. (By the way, sorry for my English. I am not so good at grammar, especially with prepositions).


  2. Swallows are one of my all-time favourite birds and I watch expectantly every spring for their return ~ which is usually the last week of March or first week of April here. They nest in a tumbledown house and barn next door to our property but spend a lot of time with us, sitting on the telegraph poles chattering away and swooping through the garden and orchard to feed. I was raised to believe it is a sign of good luck to have them nesting on your house but I have known people who have washed their nests away with a hosepipe because they don’t like the mess: that kind of behaviour makes me very sad, especially considering the incredible journey they make to spend the summer with us. Now for the sparrows . . . we have a very healthy population here but as we are extremely rural, they have plenty of available nesting sites without needing to nest on the house or steal from the swallows, thank goodness! It is possible to buy a sparrow ‘terrace’ nestbox but I wouldn’t be too inclined to encourage them in that way, especially as they are supremely noisy! As I write, there is a large gang of them sitting on top of the hedge poised to carry out raids on the birdfeeders, they are down to the last of the seed for this year so no doubt it will be something of a battleground out there today. On a serious note, the house sparrow population has suffered a serious decline in Europe (247 million fewer now than in 1980) and in the UK, they are a red-listed species ~ almost impossible to believe when they were such a common sight during my childhood. Definitely bandits, but ones that currently need a lot of love!

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    1. I agree! That’s why I didn’t want to remove the nest- even if it’s now occupied by bandits! I sometimes leave breadcrumbs on the wall for the sparrows. We’ve also got an abundance of crows here- actually I think they are more like ravens. Huge in size and sometimes a bit dangerous. They have been known to attack certain people. They are super smart! I would really like to make friends with one but I’m not sure how to go about doing that. If I have a chance I’ll take fotos of them in the area- hundreds of them- everywhere.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mmm, I’m not sure about those crows! They are pretty benign here but the last couple of years, there has been a buzzard which has divebombed me several times when I’ve been out running which I must say is a bit scary ~ I know it’s only protecting its nest (which given it’s in the top of an oak tree, I’m really not threatening) but it swoops so low, I can literally feel the wind from its wings in my hair. Last spring, I actually stopped using a certain route because it came after me every time. The really frustrating part is that it has never chased Roger, even though he runs far more than I do. Maybe it’s because he’s much faster . . . or just a man thing? Anyway, I’ll stick to swallows and sparrows, I think! 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wow that’s scary! I’d be frustrated as well. They cause chaos on garbage day in rural areas. We have to put our trash in special bags and leave them in designated areas on designated days. The crows know this and they wait. After the bags are placed you see them looking down from rooftops and electricity poles… eyeing the bags. If they see something interesting they swoop down, tear open the bags and make a huge mess. We double bag our trash now. The government bags are see-through so we first bag the trash in a black bag and stick that one in the government bag. We hate doing that because it uses double the plastic but if we don’t then trash is strewn around the neighborhood. It’s a huge problem.

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