Parus majors take charge

Annual bird house inspection reveals nature’s true colours
Photo (Francis C. Franklin): Great tit - Parus major

This year, one thing was clear: almost all of the bird houses had been used. But alas, despite the high occupancy rate, our bird population wasn’t so diverse. Our most popular resident was the parus major (aka the great tit), but even within their ranks there were casualties. In some cases the eggs didn’t hatch and in two of the houses we found the remains of birds who just didn’t make it. And despite giving the great tits special houses to call their own, they failed to drive the boxwood moths out of the ornamental garden.


What caused all of this, Bird Men René and Ruud, together with Bird Man Gerard of the Botanical Garden Zuidas, couldn’t quite figure out. There had simply been too little time to consult with the experts before this article went to press.


Then there was the birdhouse built specifically for “our” Woodpecker Family by Peter Siebbeles, the cabinet maker… It had been taken over by the Starling Family! An unfortunate turn of events, as the sole purpose of this particular bird house was to stop the Woodpecker Family from demolishing the homes of other birds. But just like with the bats, who turn their noses up at our roosts, preferring to cozy up in our neighbour’s basement, the woodpecker likely decided to take up base in a pleasantly moldy tree. Ungrateful...!


There was a dash of good news though: the tawny owl had laid another egg. We had made it difficult for any lurking egyptian geese to reach the opening of the bird house and we installed an inner frame with gravel so that any eggs would remain nicely in the center of it. Unfortunately, the egg didn’t end up hatching. It had been incubated, but endured a fatal crack. We’ll cross our fingers and hope for better luck next year.

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Photo (R.Vrielink): René meticulously inspects one of 30 bird houses.
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Photo (R.Vrielink): Of course, feathers are also nice for nest building. Above, the tawny owl's egg.
Photo (G.Uffink): A handful of eggs laid, but then abandoned.
Photo (G.Uffink): Ruud keeps track of birdlife every year on a map of Wester-Amstel.
Photo (G.Uffink): A colony of hornets does not give the bats a chance to move into their flat.

By: Ruud Vrielink