Go to any garden center of a big box store in our area and you will see birds – inside and outside. They will be looking for food, mates, safety, nesting sites and nest material. Garden centers at big box stores are the perfect place for all these things. They are where these birds “…get more done” and “do it right for less”!
By far the most frequent inside nesters in our garden centers are the Common House Sparrows. House sparrows prefer man-made structures, hence their name. They are adored by some while hated by others because these spunky cute birds are a European invasive species, and they aggressively chase out the native species from the area. They will destroy other birds’ eggs and chicks just for their nesting sites. Because of its territorial and fierce nature, and the fact they live in colonies, few other types of birds will ever try to nest in a big box garden center once Common House Sparrows take over!
When you walk in you will hear them singing and see them in the rafters. They might be carrying nesting material, canoodling with other sparrows, breaking into various store bags, or raising their young back in the recesses of the open roof areas. They will be there all spring and summer since these sparrows can have up to 4 broods per year. The Common House Sparrow is not protected by law, but it is happily flourishing in big box store garden centers!
Outside the stores you will find a different bird. Grackles. Grackles just love big parking lots! Somehow our man-made parking lots are a perfect niche for them, especially if there is a nearby fast-food joint. Any cold French fries lying around? Wonderful! They are a treat for these birds. Since they are ground foragers that live in colonies, grackles use parking lots for community gatherings, mating activities and scavenged food.
Grackles strut and preen while dodging cars and people. The males are cocky, loud, and bold, with iridescent glossy deep purple and black feathers. Females tend to be brown and small. The males particularly love to get under a parked car and screech because cars create effective echo chambers for attracting mates. Those big echoing squawks are more alluring to females. At night they all get off the ground and leave the parking lots to roost and nest in nearby trees.
Next time you go to a big box store look around for the birds – inside and out. Watch and listen because they are endlessly entertaining. They definitely prove “How doers get more done”.