• Claire Stott

Feeding frenzy

With the breeding season now well under way the harbour is a hive of activity as many birds gather materials to maintain their nests, and collect food for their chicks concealed within.

The house sparrows in particular have been visiting their favourite feeding sites like clockwork, as the parents try to keep up with the increasing demands of their growing young. One pair have nested high up in a hole in the wall of a neighbours house and I can clearly hear the chicks inside begging noisily for food when the parents are nearby.

It must be exhausting work, with house sparrows rearing up to five chicks at a time, and often raising multiple broods each breeding season. Both parents must forage from dawn until dusk to provide enough food, bringing back a steady supply of seeds and invertebrates in their small stout beaks.

The grass growing on the verge overlooking the harbour provides a reliable source of seeds, and the dandelions seem to be a particular favourite.

The recent mowing of the grass has also disturbed a variety of small insects out of their habitats and into the reach of the sparrows.

Down in the harbour itself food is even more abundant and the sparrows collect the seeds and insects larvae washed up and concealed among the flotsam at the waters edge.

This female has her beak packed with as many insects as her small beak can carry!

This male sparrow looks to have caught an earwig – delicious!

Around the boats themselves there is also food to be found with the sparrows plucking tiny spiders and midges from those hard to reach places.

The sparrows even collect the algae itself, whether this is to eat or simply to line the nest I’m not sure.

— All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography 2018 © http://www.greyfeatherphotography.com

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