Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Avian Murder: Survivor

I told you, in the previous post, the brutal story of infanticide carried out by a house sparrow upon a great tit nestling. And that we were left not knowing if any siblings had survived.

Well. The parent birds did not leave the area. They were still feeding something, somewhere. We became convinced that at least one chick was out of the nest-hole and somewhere in the yard. We began to hear the piping sounds of a tit chick. Thought perhaps - two, but to this day still do not know for sure.
A day or so after the killing of the first great tit nestling, I was watering the garden when I became aware that I was staring at a very young tit-chick, gape-beaked, unkempt, staring back at me from the concrete surround of a drain hole near the bushy undergrowth of a partly collapsed clematis. (That kind of garden). One survivor. I kept telling it to get under cover but it didn't listen.

Next day. And a strikingly similar baby bird was some five metres away in the herbage bordering our broken down decking. (That kind of garden.) Always the great tit adults were hunting food, dropping down to feed it and keeping close watch. Later that day there was no baby on the decking but I think I heard tit-piping from the hawthorn trees above.

So. We think at least one baby bird survived and flew. Not the nest exactly... but life on the streets so to speak. I am marveling at the vigilance and tough determination of its parents who must have got the nestling out of the nesting-hole somehow and, across several days, got it to travel some seven metres or so, still feeding, defending and moving it whenever they knew it had been spotted (by us.) And let me say, that chick must have had some stubborn, brave streak too.

But what seemed very odd to me, in retrospect, was that the sparrows gave up interest once the nest was emptied. They didn't pursue the survivor (or possibly - survivors) even though they were still hiding in the same yard. The sparrows wanted them out of that nest-hole in "their" territory at all costs. Finito.

Does this story ring a bell? Seems like it's a cruel, natural urge.
Survival tale.

No comments: