The Dryer Vent Birds

A couple of house sparrows have decided to build a nest across from my kitchen window. This has caused my mornings to take a bit of an ornithological turn recently. A few minutes of casual bird watching over coffee is a nice way to start the day.

The sparrows are living in a dryer exhaust vent on the condo building neighboring mine. The vent is louvered: a slatted design which allows outgoing air to pass through while keeping out rain, dirt, and wildlife (in theory).

I captured about an hour’s worth of sparrow activities by propping my phone on the kitchen windowsill. Here are a few clips:

Both parents take a turn feeding chicks (00:30)
Sparrow and fledglings (00:19)

When I think of animals that have adapted to urban environments, coyotes and squirrels have usually come to mind before birds. That’s not fair, because many bird species do quite well in urban habitats (I’m looking at you, pigeons). Birds coexist so seamlessly that they have been reduced to another fact of city life.

By building a nest in the dryer vent the sparrows have crossed a threshold. Instead of just passively existing in the city, the birds are actively repurposing human infrastructure. This act of intrusion and appropriation has a boldness that I appreciate. Humans take so much habitat that it feels just for birds to intrude on some of ours.

Watching the dryer vent sparrows has caused me to take more notice of urban birds. Next spring I am planning to put a birdhouse on my balcony to offer an alternative accommodation option. Whether a family of birds will decide to use it instead of a warm dryer vent is yet to be seen.

Further reading