Tag Archives: wildlife

The Story of Two Nests of Sparrow Chicks in our Garden and How they Ventured into the House.

Every year, sparrows nest in our bird box. We watch the mother and father fly in and out, building the nest. We hear the chicks when they are born and see the parents feeding them. When the nest is empty, sometimes we watch the chicks in the trees as they learn to fly.

sparrow chick in a tree

As I was sitting in the garden, a few days after observing this chick in the tree, one of the chicks flew into the house.  I followed it in and opened doors and windows to entice it out.

baby sparrow in the house

Shortly after the mother entered the house looking for her baby. Her distinctive clicking cheep sounded desperate as she tried to get the chick to respond to her.

 

After some time the mother left. We thought we saw the parents  flying around with the chick outside.  I could still hear the chick’s squeaky chirp, but assumed it was coming for the garden. We left the house, as we needed to go out. Some hours later, on our return the children came running, saying the chick was still flying around inside the house. It settled on a high window ledge and we could see the parents flying around outside and frantically calling.  I opened windows and doors again and the mother came in and out, searching and calling. The baby flew to above the front door but didn’t work out how to get down.

 

 

Eventually, after hours inside the house, the bird flew to the ground and hopped outside to be reunited with his parents.

A few weeks later, the girls were playing football in the garden and discovered a nest near a rock, shaded by fern. Inside were 3 tiny eggs. A few days passed and the girls ran in to tell me the eggs had hatched.  We watched them for the next few days. Sometimes the mother sat on them and sometimes they were left while she searched for food.  She was never far away and a number of times we saw her swoop down to scare off an inquisitive baby bunny.

mother sparrow on her nest

We watched  as the strange bald creatures with huge eyes grew into fluffy chicks.

Sparrow Chicks in nest day after hatching
Day 1
sparrow chicks in nest
Day 2
Baby sparrows in a nest
Day 4

Then one morning my daughter ran to tell me to come and look at the nest.  The nest had been pulled from its hiding place and was on the lawn. The birds were nowhere to be seen. Had an animal discovered them, or was it time to fly the nest?

sparrows nest

We soon discovered the latter was true. Carefully camouflaged by brown leaves, one of the chicks was hopping around the ground and waiting for the parents to come and feed it. We could hear the other chicks too but we think perhaps they had gone into next door’s garden as we couldn’t see them.

sparrow chick before it could fly

After 24 hours the chick had gone, probably learning to fly. We heard them for a few days and then no more as they moved on to discover the world.

I love that we have learned so much about birds simply from sitting in the garden on a summer day.

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How my 2 year old learned about deer and death.

dead deer in a gardenIt’s not every day that you wake up to the sight of a dead deer in your garden!  I was first alerted to the fact when my dogs hadn’t come to whine at the door after being let out. My 7-year-old went to find them and see if they had gone into the woods at the bottom of our garden.  She returned and said that there was something lying down behind the dog,  I asked how big and she said she didn’t know.  I was expecting to find a frog or maybe a bird but was confronted by the above.

I wasn’t sure whether to let my 2-year-old see it,  she really wanted to see the ‘reindeer’ but I thought she might be frightened.  However, I’m always keen to avoid sheltering my children so we went to the bottom of the garden so that I could gauge her response.

She was in fact absolutely fascinated by it.  It isn’t often that you will get the chance to see a deer that close so we could look at it and talk about it.  I pointed out its hoofs and she said

maybe it will get proper feet – does it have to go like this? (standing on tiptoe).

From the outset I talked about how it was dead.  I think children are very matter of fact about such things and their questions should be answered honestly but in a sensitive manner.  She saw that it had hurt its legs and was very concerned,

Maybe we could put it in the shower or in the bath and make its leg better?

I explained that we couldn’t put it in the bath and that we didn’t need to make it better because the deer didn’t hurt anymore, he couldn’t feel it because he was dead

Does it have arms?

No it has 4 legs like the dogs. Most animals don’t have arms.

But we have arms.

Yes.

Perhaps when we talked about the deer not feeling hurt, she was thinking of feeling as touch.

Not that it’s likely that many of you will encounter a dead deer in your garden, but would you know what to do if you did? Probably not, well neither did I and it took about 2 hours to find the answer. First port of call  the vets – I thought they might be able to point me in the right direction.  They gave me the number of the RSPCA and the local council.  According to the council a wild animal can only be collected from the roadside or public place, if it is on private property then the disposal is your own responsibility.  If I couldn’t find anyone to collect it then it became an environmental health issue and they would come and collect it.  The RSPCA suggested I contact DEFRA .  They said that they would normally advise people to dispose of animals in normal refuse, but that a deer probably wouldn’t fit! Their advice was to call the council again. The senior staff at the council finally authorised collection free of charge.

The men arrived and my 2-year-old delighted in showing them the way, saying ‘we think it is dead’.  I think they had visions of an animal that as soon as they moved it would start kicking out – I reassured them that it was dead.  The small antlers were caught around the tree and the deer was too big to fit in the bag they had brought so they carried it up the garden.

Oh look it’s awake now

my daughter said when she saw its eyes wide open.  She wanted to see them put it in the van and know where it was going.  I told her that they would probably bury it.  They put it in a yellow bag and onto the truck.

Are the mummy and daddy reindeer dead?

I don’t think so, they might be looking for it – poor deer

It’s alright reindeer you’ll get better soon.

We waved goodbye to the deer and the men.  So that was her first experience of death – we will see what other questions it raises in the coming days.  For now she has gone to bed with her cuddly reindeer kissing it’s legs and telling it she will give it a plaster to make it better.