pkd35's picture

Broody Blackbird and swallow nestlings dilemma

I would welcome some thoughts and advice on this problem. Last year, and again this year a blackbird has laid a clutch of obviously sterile eggs in her nest in the stable, which also homes about 8 swallow nests at various stages.
After sitting unsuccessfully for a long time, she has now taken to frequently sitting on a adjacent nest of swallow nestlings, which means their parents are unable to feed them. Interestingly, I have seen the female blackbird even bring caterpillar food to the stable, but have not observed her attempt to feed the swallow chicks. Upto now, I have been nudging her gently off the swallow nest, hoping she will abandon the stable altogether. I am making frequent visits and getting up early to try and redress this problem ! Any suggestions ? Would removing the blackbird's nest (still intact with the eggs), be likely to encourage or discourage her behaviour ?
Many thanks.
Pat Knauff



anonymous spotter's picture

An interesting problem -

since she is obviously a bit confused about the whole business, I suspect that removing the completed nest may not solve the problem. Removing it during construction - which you'd probably have to do repeatedly - might be more successful: but what if she had actually mated and be about to produce a "proper" brood?
If she is only interfering with one swallow nest, and there are others, there's a tricky "moral" issue here.
You could put up a suitable open-fronted box in cover somewhere nearby - but the chances are that she's fixed in her ways and won't take the hint.

Refugee's picture


You could catch the blackbird and take it to a sanctuary where it can be pared up with a wayward mail that has also been brought in for whatever reason that also can't be released back to the wild. There may just be a shortage of males though.
The swallows will get the wrong diet from a black bird so not good for them.


igm54's picture

Broody Blackbird and swallow nestlings dilemma

PKD35 - Have only just read your story / dilemma what happened in the end, was there a kind solution?

pkd35's picture

Blackbird / swallow dilemma !

Dear igm54,

We persevered with nudging the blackbird from the swallow nest each time we found her there. The swallow parents persevered with their feeding routine, and the chicks luckily fledged.
The blackbird nest, with only one egg, has now been removed, and we shall have to see where she might rebuild in the Spring. Hopefully, not in close proximity to any swallow nests !!!

igm54's picture

Confused Blackbird

This is a bit of a sad tale but I had a problem with a nesting pair and I am wondering if it is because they are young or its their first batch. A pair were nesting in my very large conifer and spent so much time bombing the poor cat - hours at times - she could not get in the house for them and I had to go and rescue her many times. I was very worried that the amount of time spent on the cat was distracting them from their duties of feeding or sitting on the nest. A similar thing happened the following year but with less zeal. This year I think there were possibly 3 successful broods raised, not sure. The first go with dad and he looks after them while mum gets on with a 2nd or 3rd if the weather is favourable and food is available. It will be interesting to see what your girl does this spring (yes spring is a million years away at the moment!). Its such a hard lesson for them, but well done you for your persistence you probably saved the other wee birds young. regards, Isobel

Fenwickfield's picture

Open boxes

I had a problem last year the nest was so low to the ground that I had to put a mesh fence around it to stop my over interested collies.I made a few open nest boxes put some behind climbers on the house walls,some inside one of the open arched barns and had two pairs of Blackbirds nesting plus a Spotted Flycatcher and one Swallow made her nest in the gap behind one of them.They are cheap to make and did the trick.