Nature loves a vacuum

by Tom Loucks

We all know that nature will fill a niche if one exists, and it doesn’t matter that the opening might have been created by humans; in fact, for wildlife accustomed to humans, maybe they watch for these opportunities?

A friend of ours lives in an apartment complex in Lakewood, and there the complex has been the subject of repeated nesting attempts by swallows. The response of Property Management was to install plastic spikes (clear in color) under the eaves so as to discourage swallows from attempting to build nests.

That friend of ours noticed something different this year: Outside above her porch, there had been a gap in the line of plastic spikes, and Property Management had installed some kind of netting instead. Well, that was all that was needed for some House Finches to move in.

In the attached photo, we can see (barely) the clear plastic spikes on the left where swallows were discouraged from nesting, and, on the right, we can easily see the nest built by the finches. The House Finches pulled the netting aside once they saw the gap, and filled the void between plastic spikes with their own new nest.

The message? Not only that “nature loves a vacuum” and there was a nesting opportunity created when Property Management left a void in the lineup of plastic spikes, but that birds are ever on the lookout for situations and, given the chance and the absence of swallows, the Finches were on it! (apologies that the photo doesn’t show a current finch, but the story and photo are current as of April 2021).