Monday, May 24, 2010

House Sparrows Make Nest in Upper West Side Crosswalk Signal By Chuck Bennett and Michael Blaustein-

Update: The NYC DOT will not be removing the House Sparrow nest from the crosswalk signal on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It was determined that the sparrows were not negatively effecting the function of the signal.

Read original...

West Side Traffic Light is Sparrows' Home Tweet Home

Maybe it should say "Squawk"/"Don't Squawk."

A family of house sparrows is living inside a crosswalk signal on a tony Upper West Side street -- coming and going through a golf ball-size hole in the side.

"It's really cool and cute," chirped Genevieve Fallon, 26, of the East Side. "I feel birds are always sneaking into different parts of the city, almost like nature's reclaiming it."

But don't be fooled by this heartwarming scene of a mama bird feeding her chicks a feast of masticated bugs -- these birds are as tough as the city they live in.

BIRDIES DO THE 'WALK' OF LIFE: A resourceful house sparrow feeds her chicks at their home inside a crossing signal at an Upper West Side intersection. Adam Nemser/

When it comes to finding a nest, house sparrows are notoriously aggressive.

"They are fierce nest competitors," said Karen Purcell, an urban-birds specialist with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. "They are able to evict other birds, even native species. They are survivors."

“Purcell speculated that the cozy, steel-encased and rat-proof casing provided a perfect nesting location for the sparrows because they thrive near humans.”

The nest may have previously inhabited by a bluebird, tree swallow or titmouse before the house sparrows took over.

"They are pretty ruthless, and that's why a lot of people don't like them," Purcell said.

And like New Yorkers, these sparrows enjoy socializing at watering holes -- or, in their case, puddles.

Unlike New Yorkers, however, they don't hold onto to their bargain-priced apartments for long.

As soon as the chicks have grown enough -- which can happen in two weeks -- the whole family will move out.

Nicole Garcia, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Transportation, said the agency would remove the nest if workers found it.

"We will inspect any location and remove anything obstructing a signal," she said.

But Bill Juckett, a tourist from Kentucky, said, "I think it's wonderful. It's not interfering with anything, so I think it's great.

"I can't see the problem. Maybe the city should put holes in all the signs."