Thursday, 2 June 2016

Avian Murder In The Courtyard

It was a mystery. And the culprit was someone whom I least expected. The victim was a great tit chick. Almost fledged but found - by me - on the yard floor below the hole in the wall that is a great tit's nest. The crown of its head was bald of feathers and skin, clearly this was not a natural death.
I removed the little corpse and buried it, feeling sad because we had been watching the progress of the great tit family as much as we could and were waiting the fledging of the chicks. I tried to work out if the culprit could have been a rat. But if so, why not carry away and eat its catch? As well, I knew the entrance hole was too small for the usual suspects... poor old magpie or various members of the crow family. Whoever it was had either been disturbed or left its victim as a cruel display.

And deep in my heart I knew the unbelievable truth. For I had seen the head of a male sparrow protruding from this nest hole shortly before I found the corpse. There are sparrows nesting, as well, in the house corners on both sides of the yard. After the death I spotted other sparrows taking great interest, one standing on the edge of the hole. I chased them off from the wall.

At least one of the parent great tits is still around. We are not sure if there are still two on duty. The Old Man reported seeing a great tit doing some kind of aggression display-dance at the sparrows in the yard but I do not know if there are surviving chicks in the nest. Whatever happened and whether any of the brood have survived, I am very sad to witness this cold-blooded murder perpetrated by a neighbour - one about whom I can never feel quite the same.

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