I can't really compare notes with other parents and grandparents. I am merely a Grey Doll. But I am satisfied that, this year alone, The Old Man and I successfully "rear" at least three broods of Sparrows and two broods of Great Tits in our humble (not in the Murdochian sense) ... yard.
The Great Tits (two separate families) fledge successfully from Hammill's Villas. These are lovingly crafted nooks and holes in our rebuilt granite yard wall. Great Tits nested in this wall in previous years, before it showed signs of imminent collapse. Our friendly re-builders provided integral nesting holes as requested when the wall was rebuilt. (These have been very successful, boys.)
The House Sparrows choose their regular "under the eaves slot" and opt for at least two of the compartments in the sparrow house. We put up the sparrow box in order to lure the sparrows away from the eaves, a ruse which - naturally - has not worked.
Several years ago a traumatic fledging occurred when the youngsters jumped the wrong way and ended up inside the tiny roof space above the bathroom. This did cause a few fraught days - with the bathroom's window and its loft hatch left open. Creeping into the room in order to perform the necessities - always meant an initial moment of relief at the quiet above - soon dashed by the patter of tiny feet across the ceiling.
Surprisingly, helped by Dad Sparrow's persistent calling outside the nest, these arrangements worked. The fledglings took the long route to freedom. I know. Because occasionally I would enter the bathroom, there would be a blur of movement... and Dad would be seen feeding a quivering fledgling ball in a nearby hedge - three times.
So it is that - as I peer out of of my kitchen porch window this morning - I see the naked branches of our drought-struck, yard tree festooned (as if for Christmas) with small round fluffy chick-balls. Bewildered and wing fluttering, they stand in the branches blinking in the daylight: an assortment of baby House Sparrows and Blue Tits.
Hang on. Blue Tits? Where d'they come from?