Blackbird builds her nest in my wildlife garden and has chicks
Wooden fence panels to me are boring and almost useless for garden wildlife. They are transformed and much more interesting when clad in ivy and honeysuckle. I watched as the male blackbird keep guard whilst his partner built the nest. A few times he valiantly chased away a magpie that was watching where she was making it.
The chick with the punk hairdo!
I think this may have been a second brood for this particular pair as it was early May when she made this nest. A few weeks earlier I watched as a pair of magpies working together, raided a blackbirds nest. Whilst one kept the birds busy, the other robbed the nest in my neighbours tree which is only 20 feet away and flew away with a chick in its beak. It is quite a noisy disturbance and an obvious one when you hear and then see what is happening. Probably the magpies took all the birds. The BTO researched this aspect of magpie bird predation and failed to find any evidence to support the notion that they are to blame for songbird decline. Nature takes her course and blackbirds do have several broods some of which will be successful.
Early one the morning I saw a blackbird chick in my garden on a wood chip path. The parents were feeding it and another chick hidden in the ivy near the old nest. The ‘binking’ sound that blackbirds make as a warning sound to their young is easily recognisable. This bird was very young. It still had the fluffy ‘down’ on its head and had no tail feathers. Others chicks I have had in the garden are much more developed than this individual. It was n’t long before I saw the other bird, which was just as young. I suspect that they had been ‘spooked’ earlier in the morning and left the nest early.
The long legged big beaked chick!
During the day, I had to keep an eye open as I saw a cat several times on the shed behind my garden fence gingerly looking over from the shed into the ivy below where the birds had nested. Possibly the cause of them leaving the nest. It sat there for some time on several occasions. A magpie kept landing nearby on my garage roof, then hopped onto the fence, paying particular attention to my garden. I doubt it was admiring it! The adult blackbirds mobbed this lone magpie.
Later I watched a grey squirrel, leave my neighbours fat balls that it had been feeding upon, crawl down the fence and started to move towards the chick on the ground. It was completely in the open on the wood chip path. Why would it do that? A BTO research paper found it is a major predator of nest chicks and bird eggs. To be sure it was n’t going to harm it, I chased the squirrel away and as I approached the chick to move it, it showed no fear at all. In fact as I went to pick it up, it simply opened its large beak and begged for food. Do I look like blackbird?! I put the chick into the thick vegetation which I filmed as it tried to hide amongst the leaves, with it parents making that ‘binking’ sound. The adults fed the birds for a couple of days, broken by the occasional visit of a magpie. Then they disappeared from my garden, hopefully alive!
BTO Garden BirdWatch Scheme
Observations like this can prove useful to the BTO Garden BirdWatch scheme. If you enjoy wildlife watching in your garden, you may even keep a note as to what birds and wildlife you attract. Put this pleasurable past time to good use! I can recommend the BTO Garden Birdwatch scheme, which, if you join, you will receive this fantastic book, Garden Birds & Wildlife, and makes for a thoughtful gift along with 4 newsletters annually, with up to date wildlife gardening information.
RSPB research “The predation of wild birds in the UK” makes interesting reading