Sparrows build nest in unlikeliest spot at nature reserve—in tour vehicle


Two baby swallows awaiting to be fed in the back of a tour vehicle

A momma sparrow has an interesting challenge when it comes to feeding her chicks at the Pensthorpe Nature Reserve in Norfolk, England—finding the nest, which is essentially a mobile home.

That's because the sparrows built the nest in the back of a tour vehicle used to carry tourists around the 800-acre reserve, so it is constantly moving.

"Mum will pop in to feed them even if the vehicle is in motion around the tour route!" Alex Townshend of Pensthorpe told GrindTV Outdoor in an email Tuesday.


You can see the speaker at bottom right, covered in droppings

The sparrows built the mud and twig nest in the roof of the back compartment of the Land Rover where tourists sit, according to the BBC. Initially, it was removed over concerns the birds might not incubate the eggs, since they might get scared off by the passengers, but the birds simply rebuilt the nest.

"I feel like a surrogate father, and I'm sure all the hot air from my tour patter was keeping them warm," warden Darren Williams, 45, told the BBC.

"The nest is just on top of a speaker and we've rigged up a swallow hammock from a little bit of netting in case they fell out as we bounced over the rough terrain."

Two of the four chicks fledged Sunday but keep hanging around the vehicle because "as far as the birds are concerned the back of the Land Rover is home," Williams told the BBC.

The unique viewing does come with its disadvantages, however.

"With a nest comes the added chore of cleaning up after the babies, but the passengers have just been enamored with them," Williams added.

"It’s very unusual to be able get that close to them in the wild."

And in this case, it's very close.

Photos courtesy of the Pensthorpe Nature Reserve

Darren with Tour Vehicle

Darren Williams and the Wensum Discovery Tour vehicle that houses the nest