Country diary: it’s breeding season for this sparrow colony


Caistor St Edmund, Norfolk: The whir of wings and chirruping chatter now make a welcome soundtrack to farm life

With almost clockwork regularity, little heads of house sparrows pop in and out of the holes like a wind-up toy. Sometimes they turn, quizzically, to look around, then vanish again, or rest on the perch before bursting out in flight. It’s constant noise, motion and energy. And this chirruping, squeaking chatter and the purr of wings is the year-round soundtrack to my farm life.

This is the farmyard diesel store. It could be a purely functional, sterile building, but instead it is perforated with dozens of golf-ball-sized holes. Behind each is nesting space packed with hay, feathers and horsehair that is perfect for this sociable bird. Right now, the colony is bustling with the activity of breeding season; there is mating and a quarrelsome vibe. Soon there will be eggs to incubate, a task shared between male and female.

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