Theft and the African Marsh Warbler 

November 2017

For several years a pair of African Marsh Warblers have built their nest in a bush in our courtyard here in Loxton. Their tiny, neat and quite deep nest is constructed with grass and separated strands of baling twine, lined with fine grass and sheep wool.

Some years they are successful in raising their young but in 2016 we found the nest torn apart and the eggs gone. We never identified the culprit but we have Cape Polecat that are regular visitors to the garden, so perhaps one scrambled in the dense branches and took the eggs and damaged the nest in the process. It could possibly have been the resident Fiscal Shrike? Or was it Cape Sparrows?

This year (2017) the warblers successfully constructed their nest but it disappeared one day to the next. This was before the female laid her eggs. Then over the past weekend we noticed that they again were starting to construct a second nest. Watching from the side we saw the male warbler was venting alarm calls and there was a male Cape Sparrow just 10 cm from the nest. A short while later the nesting material was gone! There are several pairs of these sparrows nesting on our property and theft of nesting material from others is rife.

The warblers are still here but they seem to have shifted their nesting site to a dense stand of saltbush. We wish them luck with their third attempt.