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Lodgers

Having birds in your pipe certainly starts to make you think about them a bit more.

When we were away on holiday the house must have seemed a particularly quiet and peaceful place, and I guess it was at least in the evenings without my incessant need to have the radio on. Maybe it is because I’m an extrovert by nature, but unlike the Lovely Wife I find it hard to concentrate in complete silence and need and like having something burbling along in the background. More likely, it is because I grew up in a house where either or both the TV were on at the same time from early in the morning to late at night – it was not a quiet house an as in many cases our childhood experience define our own unique brand of what normal actually is. Anyway, should you ever be passing our house and no noise can be heard we are either out or the Lovely Wife is beavering away on without her noisy husband to distract her.

Well, this oasis of quiet seems to have encouraged a pair of Great Tits to nest in the ventilation pipe from our upstairs bathroom. When we got back from holiday the first thing I noticed was the high pitched cheeping – then, as I stood bemused under the pipe, I noticed I was being stared at by a pair of adult Tits, each with a caterpillar in their beak. This staring was very much in the vein of ‘for goodness sake get out of the way so we can feed the hungry little buggers’ and I duly made myself scarce.

Since then we have been careful to not get in the way too much. The poor hassled parents have enough on their plates as it is feeding however many chicks they have in there; unfortunately we will probably never know that unless we by some coincidence happen to be around when and if they fledge. But the parents are certainly working hard, bringing in a collection of grubs and spiders for the hungry, insistent charges. I approximate 10 to 12 feeds an hour, which is not bad for two small birds.

I suspect that this is a second brood, as it seems quite late in the season. As nothing has ever tried and to nest here before, it seems reasonable to speculate that they had lost the previous brood and have given a different site a go; so far so good with the second attempt (although how we are going to clear out the pipe when they are finished is not a question I like contemplating – it’s a bit high for comfort.

The main problem – if you can call it that, as at the moment the feathered family is of no inconvenience to us at all – is that now they are effectively nesting in our house they are now ‘our’ Great Tits and we start worrying about them. The Lovely Wife was unhappy when she saw one the resident magpies sitting on the pipe looking down into it – but the chicks are very much still there and alive (well they make noise and are still being fed) so our view is that the predatory bird cannot actually reach the chicks (incidentally, we are pretty certain the magpies themselves have seen their nest predated this year by the local dominant pair of crows – the ones I am having the battle of wits with over the fat balls (update: so far the locking plastic garden ties are working, but I am not claiming victory over my sleek and black avian adversary quite yet) – so I do feel a little bit of sympathy for the larger bird.

Predation aside, there are plenty of other things to worry about. What happens if there is some heavy rain? Will the fledglings be able to fly up out of the pipe? (Common sense says yes, as the Lovely Wife pointed out the depth the nest has been placed is probably not far from the jump they would have to make to exist a nest box). What if that first flight results in the fledgling falling through our bathroom window? (This is circumstantially possible I believe when considering the relative locations of the pipe and the window.) Basically I am applying my usual approach of creative worry to something I should not be worrying about at all and I should just enjoying having an unexpected little drama a few feet from my tooth brush.

However, I do wonder what they must think of the noisy neighbours who moved in next to their peaceful nest hole a couple of weeks ago. I’m waiting for the annoyed pecking at the window to get me to turn the radio off so the kids can sleep…

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