Shouting walls and yelling trees

One of the particular pleasures for me at this time of year, is finding bird nests. Many birds are secretive about their nesting – because it keeps them safe – so spotting them is a bit of a thrill. Some birds aren’t subtle – heron nests in trees, rookeries, the nests swans build alongside patches of water – these are easy to see. But many are not.

My recent wanderings brought me in to contact with several shouting walls. Gaps in Cotswold dry stone walls offer safe spaces for small birds. I didn’t see the parents, but given both the size of the available spaces, and the proximity of nests, my guess is sparrows. They like to nest close to each other.

I was blessed with a sighting of two parent nuthatches visiting a hole in a tree, and also a parent woodpecker coming in to a tree hole.  I’ve seen a jackdaw with a nest under the roof tiles of an old house. When the parent bird turns up with food, the nestlings go berserk and for a while it’s all rather loud. This is something I will never get tired of.

A bird with a beak full of food is a pretty good indicator of a nest. However, it is important not to upset the parents or the young. Watch from a distance. If the parent isn’t going to the nest, move along. Let them get on with feeding their young. Don’t approach nests if you think you’ve identified them – watch and listen from a distance that doesn’t trouble the birds. They are exciting and wonderful and a bit magical, and their comfort and wellbeing must always come ahead of our curiosity and enthusiasm.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

7 responses to “Shouting walls and yelling trees

  • Christopher Blackwell

    Get enough birds to see at my Seed Vulture Cafe feeding area,sometimes dozens at a time. Just beginning to see the first of the baby quail at my feeding area. As I can’t travel far even with my walker, I bring them to me with plenty of seed and water, so I just have to look out my window and they are usually there, also Ground Squirrels, Cottontail Rabbits and Jackrabbits. So being home 24 hours a day is never boring. Even the Bees like the water that I put out.

  • lornasmithers

    Love these terms – we have lots of yelling trees here (mainly starlings and sparrows) but I haven’t come across a shouty wall yet.

  • Aspasía S. Bissas

    And if you find a baby on the ground, put it back in its nest. The idea that the parents will reject it if it smells of human is a myth.

    • Nimue Brown

      it is also ok if baby birds become meals for other wild creatures – it is the season of cute things eating cute things.

      • Aspasía S. Bissas

        To a point. Birds are being lost in unnaturally large numbers due to window collisions, wind farms, and predation from cats. If you can save a bird, always save it. There are other prey animals that can be eaten (rodents, for example). That’s also part of why cats are best kept as indoor pets–they kill far too many birds, even though most of them are already fed by owners (eating birds and rodents can also make domesticated cats sick). Bird organizations like FLAP ( can give you more info.

      • Nimue Brown

        Context is everything with this.

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