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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?