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Red in tooth and claw

I have just watched one of my blackbird chicks die after being pecked by a magpie. I banged hard on the window as soon as I saw it happening, but it was too late for that chick. It thrashed and twitched for a while, and then was still. I don't know where the parents are, and I can't tell if the other chicks are OK or not.

I feel really shaken up about it, although I did know that it was unlikely all four would survive. I saw some pigeons close by the nest earlier, too. I didn't think they were such ones for eating other birds' chicks as magpies, but it looks like they would, given half the chance.

I know this stuff happens all the time, but I had got really involved with these blackbirds. At this rate, I shall be sitting up all night with an air-gun, defending them whenever the parents aren't around.

Not happy.

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
dakegra
May. 27th, 2005 10:32 am (UTC)
I suppose it must happen all the time, but it must be awful to see it happen up close, to something you've grown so attached to.

:-/
strange_complex
May. 27th, 2005 10:35 am (UTC)
Yes, it is. I actually feel really quite queasy about it, and I am having to try really hard to tell myself not to look out of the window, because I just don't want to see what's there any more.

The magpie just came back a minute ago and tried again. The mother chased him off very quickly (it was her cries that mande me realise something was happening), but I just know he is going to keep on coming back and back now. They'll be lucky if any of the chicks survive his attentions at all.
dakegra
May. 27th, 2005 10:38 am (UTC)
now he knows they are there, it looks like they're in for a tough time.
megamole
May. 27th, 2005 10:40 am (UTC)
:(
huskyteer
May. 27th, 2005 10:45 am (UTC)
Oh my God. That would really shake me up, too. Just because it's the Circle of Life doesn't make it any less horrible to see.
strange_complex
May. 27th, 2005 10:50 am (UTC)
Definitely. I know the magpie has to live too, but it's not like blackbird chicks are all he can eat.
davesangel
May. 27th, 2005 10:57 am (UTC)
That's awful *hugs* And that's why I hate magpies, they are so vicious. I had to rescue a seagull chick from a magpie once and I nursed it for days but it died too :( I might ask my dad, who knows a lot about birds, and see if he knows of something that would keep them away. It may be, now, that because the mother is aware of this happening that she or the father will stick around as much as possible to protect the remaining chicks.
strange_complex
May. 27th, 2005 10:59 am (UTC)
Yes, I think the mother and father are both on high alert. The problem is that if they spend all their time chasing off magpies, they can't go out and get worms to feed their chicks, so the chicks suffer either way. I found this discussion on a bird-lovers' forum about the exact same problem, but the consensus seems to be that there's nothing you can do. :(
(Deleted comment)
strange_complex
May. 27th, 2005 04:29 pm (UTC)
Yes, it is. Since I posted the above I've had definite confirmation that two of the other chicks are still alive, as I've seen them being fed. But I'm not so confident about the third. The mother is now spending most of her time sitting on the nest on top of them, which seems a sensible way to protect them. But they've definitely received very little food today, what with all the disturbance, which is bad for them in itself.
sphinxi
May. 27th, 2005 04:34 pm (UTC)
That must have been horrible to witness. I wonder if there is some way to scare off or distract the maggot-pie without scaring the blackbird?

Could it be bribed or distracted by other food in another part of the garden? Or maybe that would just encourage it. All I can think of.
strange_complex
May. 27th, 2005 04:42 pm (UTC)
It was!

The good news is that I haven't seen any sign of the magpie since about lunch time, so maybe the combined efforts of the blackbird parents and my window-banging has done the job... for the moment at least.

The nest is actually in a largish light-well outside my office window, not a garden, and I think the area is too small for me to attempt distraction. It would only encourage magpies into the light-well in the first place. I just have to rely on there being enough other food-sources around here to act as better / easier pickings for the magpies. We have lawns and trees on the University campus, plus a park nearby, and lots of fast-food outlets just down the road, so it's a reasonable prospect.
helikesthursday
May. 27th, 2005 05:53 pm (UTC)
found time to do nothing so obviously i have too much time. searched round on the interests lists, and came across yours. it's nice, and i like it -although it feels strange to say that when the last entry is so sad.
hope for the other chicks!
peter
strange_complex
May. 27th, 2005 07:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Yes, this is a sad entry, but I felt that poor chick deserved a tribute. At least two of the other chicks are still alive, but I don't know if they'll be safe now they've been attacked once. :( Still, like you, I'm hoping!
helikesthursday
May. 28th, 2005 09:44 am (UTC)
there's nothing more you can do than look after them. and you're right, it does deserve a journal entry.
recently i've been going through a rough patch, so the last few entries of mine wouldn't make for pretty reading...
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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