spotted cat's picture

Collared dove on house sparrow's nest

I have been watching a pair of house sparrows nesting in a poplar tree outside one of my windows near Rethymno, Crete, Greece. I saw the male building the nest, a large domed structure. On 3 May I watched the couple mate, and have been anticipating watching nestlings being fed in due time.

One day, however, I saw a couple of collared doves land in the tree, and slowly, apparently surreptitiously, approach the sparrow's nest. Since then I keep seeing the collared doves near and even on the nest. The dome seems to have disappeared, and I almost get the impression that the doves are stealing the nest for their own use. But the increasing leaves of the tree are making it more and more difficult for me to see what is going on.

The male sparrow seems fairly unconcerned unless his mate is around, she being much more agitated about the intruders.

Does anyone know whether collared doves have been known to hijack the nests of other birds (even birds so much smaller than themselves)? Or might they be eating the eggs? Or something else?

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spotted cat's picture

One of the doves is

One of the doves is definitely now sitting on the nest. The sparrow pair is still hovering around. I saw the female dive bomb the dove's mate as it flew away from the nest on one occasion.

bobthebirder's picture

sparrow nest

Collared doves make the most flimsy nest of all birds - just a few twigs dropped in a bush to make a platform for the eggs. So I would be very surprised if they were really using the sparrow's nest. They may just be using it as a convenient perch. Keep us updated with any developments!

Bob Ford

spotted cat's picture

sitting dove

For the last few days, every time I've looked at the nest (many times a day) there's been a dove sitting on it. That seems unlikely if it's just a convenient perch. But I'll certainly keep an eye on it.

I haven't seen the sparrow pair near the nest for the last couple of days. Maybe they've now abandoned it. I hope they're nesting elsewhere by now.

spotted cat's picture

gone dove

Since first light Friday (18th) morning, there has been no sign of the dove, although previously it had been constantly sitting on the nest. It has completely disappeared. No sparrows either, at least on or very near the nest; there has been a male calling from a branch in the tree.

The mystery deepens!

Amadan's picture

Puzzling -

I remember reading or hearing on the radio - long ago now - of how some birds practice what military strategists call "area denial".
Whilst not actually predating or fighting with other birds, they try to prevent them nesting or otherwise utilising an area they claim as their own. In this way, they try to preserve the food in the area for themselves and their offspring.
I don't know if that is what is happening here, but it's a possibility.