Monday, 31 March 2014

The Seemingly Inevitable Tragedy of Blackbirds


For the third consecutive year blackbirds are renovating the nest in the Shed of Shame. They seem to think it's a perfect spot. It is in a sturdy shelter. However, there are two problems with it.

1. We keep the freezer here, so almost daily I go in and send mister blackbird into spiraling paroxysms against the stone wall in the far corner. He gives me the jitters and for a few seconds we're both incapable of knowing what to do beyond flutter and flap either physically or mentally. I've worked out the best thing to do is crouch down just inside the doorway so he can see me and know it's safe to fly over me and out. Missus blackbird is not so agitated in her response to me. I think perhaps it's because in the past she has had to sit on the eggs while I enter potter and leave, so even when they don't yet have eggs she has developed a more sanguine approach.

2. The second downside to nesting in the shed is that the entrance and exit is the hole of an old cat flap. We don't have a cat, so that doesn't pose a danger, but once the chicks have outgrown the confines of the shed (shitting on everything in it in the process) they need to hop through the square hole to the outside. I can only imagine the awe and surprise a chick must experience when they discover this whole new enormous world of light and movement and expanse the moment they hop from the shed to the stone sets outside. At least, whatever they are experiencing, they stop still for several seconds on the sets before launching off to somewhere more sheltered. Yes, the sets are terribly exposed.

The worst occasion witnessed was a wee chick last year bouncing off the hole's ledge, into the light, pausing long enough for a sparrowhawk to swoop down and snatch it away. F's instinctive response as witness was to charge the sparrowhawk on its upward flight, chick in claw. Naturally it dropped its bounty before escaping the clod-hoofed human. The chick fell to the ground, not dead, barely alive, to writhe, misshapen, bloody, in a tangle of down and bone, on the sets.

The price of interfering with nature writ large. Again

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