6 AUGUST 1921, Page 16


[To THE EDITOR or THE " SPECTATOR.") do not know whether the following account of a family of nuthatches may be of interest to bird-loving readers of your paper. On a large pine tree about four yards from this house I placed two bird boxes, facing the window. They are on the same side of the tree, and about four feet apart. The top one is a Baron von Berlepsch box for tits, the lower one a Selborne Society box, D-shaped, opening fairly large. For the first two years they were not inhabited, but were tried by various birds. The third year some blue tits built in the upper one, and were molested literally for hours at a time during the whole summer by a pair of wrynecks; the latter would not look at the lower box, and eventually left without building in either. The fourth year a great tit took the upper box, and to our great joy a pair of nuthatches took the lower one, having filled up the large hole to a third of its size with clay. Alas! a mischievous garden-boy eventually robbed the nest. Next year they were not there, so I was afraid we had lost them, but this year, I am glad to say, they have been busy round the top box for weeks, looking in. and going round; hammering at the entrance, which was far too small to admit them, till at last they enlarged it sufficiently to get in with a great struggle. After this, silence, and we saw them very seldom, till one day I caught the male in the act of feeding the female, so knew that she was sitting. In due courts they hatched out, and the voices became louder and louder, and both parents were kept busy to the rate of three visits in fire minutes, during this last week, bringing food. About four days ago the young came np to the mouth of the nest to be fed, and later began putting their heads out (only room for one at a time) for about a quarter of an hour at a time further and further. At 8.30 a.m. this morning (July 2nd) one came half-way out and looked round, and eventually came right out with difficulty; and ran up the tree a little way, then round behind the box. Another took its place at the doorway, and then mother came home, but seeing her adventurous child outside so upset her that she looked at it and then flew away again without feeding any of them. In a moment or two both parents arrived, and the young one at the doorway received three mouthfuls administered most uncomfortably from the top of the box. When the parents had gone No. 2 came out and clung to the trunk; and was shortly followed by 3 and 4. No. 1 had disappeared, but No. 2 was looked at for some time, but eventually was found worthy of food, administered by the hen, both clinging to the trunk. The male bird now returned, and by this time the young were about in the tree, out of my sight, behind the trunk; he looked anxiously into the door- way of the nest four or five times from various positions in front and on top of it, and appeared much worried, and even- tually flew away with his food. I do not know if it is unusual for wrynecks and nuthatches to build so close to a dwelling; people were continually coming in and out of a door opposite the tree, and having tea on the terrace almost daily within six or eight yards of the nest, and the birds did not seem in the least troubled by their presence. The wrynecke have evidently built this year somewhere near, as I saw a young one, only just able to fly, clinging to a rough shed, about three weeks ago.—I am, Sir, he., 0. N.- PALSIES. The Vicarage, Holmwood, Surrey.