Thursday, 9 May 2013

Beware Magpies in the Garden

Since M told me of her presence in the garden a couple of days ago I have been assiduously watching Teddy on his trips outside to ensure he does not kill the Blackbirds' Child.

Imagine my horror this afternoon when, whilst working on the computer which is located in the study which in turn looks out over the back garden, I heard the most terrible bird distress calls and looking out of the window saw three adult blackbirds repeatedly dive bombing a magpie who was tossing something small and fluffy around on the ground.

I leapt out of the chair, skidded through the house, wrenched open the back door and tore up the garden path, waving my arms and yelling at the top of my voice. The magpie and the blackbirds scattered, although the blackbirds only went as far as the beech hedge. 

When I reached the apple tree my worst fears were confirmed and I saw that the small fluffy thing was indeed the Blackbirds' Child. She'd been dragged from the hedge where she'd been being gently introduced to the world outside her nest these last two or three days, and pulled into the risk-filled open space of the garden. 

I fell to my knees and put my hands around her, gently sitting her upright, and all the time she gasped for breath and flopped over in my hands and I knew I was too late. She died within seconds of me reaching her, her poor parents calling their distress, but softly now, from the beech hedge.

I said a blessing and left her out in the open so they could come down and see her and know that she was gone. 

All that hard work, all that nest building and egg sitting and collecting of worms, all that tender care, keeping an eye on her when they brought her to the garden to learn about the world, feeding her, protecting her, showing her how big birds take care of themselves, all of it gone in a few ugly seconds at the hands of a magpie who almost never ventures into the garden.

I know this is nature. I know this is how it works. But I will never lose that sense of helplessness that comes when a small injured creature dies gasping for breath in my hands.



  1. This is terrible news, and so upsetting. Nature can be very cruel and it is difficult to accept it. I expect the blackbirds will try again soon, though.

    1. They've readjusted far quicker than me. They're hopping about feeding on the worms and remnants of fat balls quite calmly, whereas I am still feeling sad. Ho hum.

  2. How awful-it's heartbreaking. I once jumped out of my office window (on the ground floor) to try and save a thrush chick from two magpies, but it was too late. I get so upset when things die like that or I find injured or dead animals-it's just the way I am. We have the same problems with herring gull chicks v great blacked back gulls. Like you say after all that hard work and care it's upsetting to see it happen.

    1. Hi Suzie. Yes it's the worst bit of nature isn't it? All these wonderful young things coming into the world but not all of them will make it. So brutal.


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