"Earth’s distant orb appeared the smallest light that twinkles in the heaven; whilst round the chariot’s way innumerable systems rolled and countless spheres diffused an ever-varying glory. It was a sight of wonder: some were hornèd like the crescent moon; some shed a mild and silver beam like Hesperus o'er the western sea; some dashed athwart with trains of flame, like worlds to death and ruin driven; some shone like suns, and as the chariot passed, eclipsed all other light." From "Queen Mab" by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1813)

Friday, 9 July 2010

Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep

So the other morning in the very early hours I was awoken by birdsong. This happens pretty much every morning and despite the interruption to my precious sleep I actually enjoy it and drop off again with a smile on my face and the birds in my ears.

On this occasion however, it was a new bird noise, obviously not one of the garden regulars (see here for details). The calls were very loud and very shrill, short and regular with the occasional extra note or two at the end of some of them. “Who could this new garden visitor be?” I thought, then turned over and went back to sleep.

At a more convenient hour I got up to feed the birds as usual, still hearing the new bird call, and ventured into the garden to see who was making all the noise. I wasn’t quite awake and it took a while for me to focus properly on the bird at the back of the garden, sitting on the fence and calling for all his worth. As things came into focus I could see it was a baby bird, the large yellow gape was a giveaway as was its round fluffiness. It was larger than a robin and I’m pretty sure it was a blackbird chick.

As I watched he launched himself from the fence and flew in a straight line at the house. I thought he was going to fly through the open door into the house but instead he missed the open door and flew into the closed window and knocking himself silly.

I once saw a baby dunnock do the same thing and die right in front of me, it was very sad. At least this little fellow hadn’t died but he was very wobbly and was clearly semi-conscious; I was able to get close enough to have him put one foot on my hand. I didn’t know whether to pick him up or not and as I was deciding what to do he came round, called out again and ran off behind the pots.
From then on his calls didn’t let up, once every couple of seconds or so. Does the call mean “I’m here, come and get me mum/dad”? It seemed like that anyway but if it was, mum and dad didn’t pay much attention and didn’t come and get him. There were plenty of blackbirds in the garden at one time or another but none of them seemed to take any notice. Only the robin seemed to pick up on the distress calls and he didn’t seem to know what to do either.
The poor thing, let’s call him Chirpy as that’s what he was doing the whole time. He moved about the garden finding different spots to call from, sometimes in good cover, other times a little more exposed. While Mrs Kitsch and I were having breakfast he came to the door and looked like he was going to come inside for a moment. He didn’t though but we did get the chance to take some photos.
My other half and I managed to get close enough to try and give him some bagel soaked in water. He took a little from her but wasn’t keen to take anything from me. I really wanted to pick him up and take him indoors where he would be safe from predators, out of the very hot sun and maybe persuade him to take some more food but you’re not supposed to do that, so despite his pitiful calls, and the dopy expression on his little birdie face, we left him to his fate hoping that mum and dad would come along and get him back to the nest.

Chirpy moved around the garden again for a bit, still calling out and we went indoors. I kept checking on him and could hear him even when I couldn’t see him. At one point every time he called you could see the bushes move, so he was obviously in there somewhere. Then I went out again later and nothing; no calling and no sign of him. I wish there was a more satisfactory ending to this blog but there isn’t. There was no sign of him for the rest of the day. I hoped to hear or see him again today but there’s still no sign.

He may have flown out the garden too far for us to hear; he may have got back to the nest and not have the need to make so much noise; or something less palatable but all to “natural” may have occurred. I don’t know. Poor chirpy.
It was good to get so close to a chick but a bit too distressing for me to see him so obviously distressed. As Mrs Kitsch said of nature quoting Thomas Hobbes, its “nasty, brutish and short”. Poor Chirpy, poor us.

Suggested reading: “On the Origin of Species: By Means of Natural Selection” by Charles Darwin

1 comment:

  1. This is quite unbelievable, but in an "oh my goodness" kind of way as we also have young blackbirds in our garden at the moment. We have a nest in amongst our blackberry bushes that had three eggs in it although now they have hatched there only appears to be two hatchlings. The third has disappeared completely. We have some amazing pictures which I will e-mail later.

    It's obviously the time of year for it although ours are still very, very small and quite featherless...as you will see.