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Blackbird nest

Discussion in 'Wildlife Chat' started by wind1, Mar 27, 2017.


  1. wind1

    wind1 PetForums VIP

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    So, despite our efforts to deter them a pair of blackbirds have nested very low down in the hedge in our back garden. The reason we tried to stop them when we first noticed them is because of our 2 cats which will just terrorise them from now until all the babies have fledged. Both the male and female have been going in and out the hedge this evening with beak fulls of worms. Could the eggs have hatched already? Is it too early? They are both very protective of the nest, I can't go into the garden without them both having a go at me, they are so loud. When the cats are out there the blackbirds get really loud, I'm trying to keep the cats in when the birds are active but it's not easy. I was just out there and one of the cats was up on the fence, the female blackbird was in the tree telling us off then she dive bombed the cat on the fence! It's going to be a stressful few weeks.
     
  2. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    Yes sounds like you have chicks :)

    Can you fence off the nest area with some chicken wire to protect the nest somewhat from the cats ? You might have to accept that the cats will have to be restricted in their access for a bit.
     
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  3. wind1

    wind1 PetForums VIP

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    I did think of putting some chicken wire along the hedge to protect it a bit. Hopefully that might encourage the babies to go out the other side into my neighbours garden when they leave the nest too, they would be a bit safer in there than my side. I wasn't sure if it would disturb the parents though messing about near the nest?
     
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  4. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

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    I'd give it a try, just be as quiet etc. as you can.

    The nest is vulnerable without it so it's worth the risk, I think.
     
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  5. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    Do it after dusk when the parents are asleep. Less disturbance that way.
     
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  6. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

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    I read an interesting thing today in my gardening mag from a wildlife expert which said that although birds and their young are at some risk from cats in gardens they are far more likely to be predated in the woods and countryside.

    So maybe, yes do try to block the cat's access if you can but don't stress! ;)

    Fledging time, I would be trying to keeps the cats in bit more though :)
     
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  7. leisurely

    leisurely PetForums Junior

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    I am terrified of birds, I wouldn't hurt them but they scare the life out of me.
    Some years ago we lived in an old house with an old hedge at the side of it.
    Every year, a pair of blackbirds would make their nest and lay some eggs. Every year some horrible magpies would come along and eat either the eggs or the chicks.
    Nature is an unfeeling thing
     
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  8. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    Most animals and plants / fungi etc produce far more eggs /spores / young than are required to replace the parents over a lifetime. Even humans tend to do so in those communities that don't have access to high quality or continuous food or to disease and injury prevention / treatment.

    The excess young produced that do not survive go on to feed other plants / animals /microbes etc.

    It is the circle of life and a very clever strategy for species survival.

    The difficulty comes when looking at individuals. It seems harsh and uncaring when a human child gets taken by disease, or a blackbird chick is used to feed a magpies growing brood or a nurtured and we'll tended plant on your allotment is eaten by a passing rabbit but without the loss of organisms there wouldn't be production of new ones.

    Whether you eat meat plants fungi or insects your food has to come from somewhere and unless your sole nourishment is sunlight or sulphur for example, then inevitably this means that an organism will die as a result.

    If blackbirds suffered no predation then we would either be over run by blackbirds if they continued to reproduce using their current strategies it in a pairs lifetime they would only need to raise two chicks to reproduction age.

    Nature is very clever but I agree that the loss of any individual is a sad thing.
     
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  9. wind1

    wind1 PetForums VIP

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    Due to the size and position of the hedge I'm not sure it is going to be easy to fix up some chicken wire. I have just been out in the garden to see what was upsetting them as both my cats are in. There was another blackbird in the hedge (I think it was a blackbird, it wasn't very easy to see), and I could see a beak sticking up out of the nest so there are definitely babies in there! The female is out there going crazy.
     
  10. leashedForLife

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    it's a convenient rationalization to claim that there are always extras born / hatched, whatever, & of course, our cats only take the ones with the tags proclaiming, "I'm gonna die before i breed anyway, please kill ME".
    :confused:
    It's hogwash. Comforting, but hogwash, nonetheless. // Just as one sample, in one small urban area with a single species studied: over 60% of all the eggs hatched & reared by Mockingbirds in one area of Wash, D-C, were all killed by cats between laying & fledging. Fewer than 30% reached free flight.
    That's not a survivable rate of attrition in any species above insects, who reproduce in enormous numbers per female & don't invest in a lot of caretaking, by & large. For species who incubate & feed their young, it's genocidal.
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    U can restrict the cats' access, screen the nest shrub with chicken-wire, & cross yer fingers. Or not. Good luck.
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  11. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    In a balanced ecosystem predator and prey numbers even out eg if there are abundant chicks then magpie broods are more likely to be successful. However, where there are artificially high predator numbers eg a suburban area populated by domestic cats, prey species cannot offset their losses and the species can be (locally) exterminated.

    Garden birds bringing up young where there are cats face a big challenge to get them to adulthood. Anything we humans can do to help them out I think is a good thing. I hope you manage to find a way to protect you blackbird nest OP. :)
     
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  12. Nonnie

    Nonnie PetForums VIP

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    Ive currently got a blackbirds nest too. Three chicks.

    About waist height just to the side of my living room window in my cotoneaster.

    Thankfully, my cats are not free roaming and only have access to secure pens, otherwise all the chicks and probably both the adults would have been wiped out by now. One of my cats has almost caught a male blackbird that swooped too low. I only had him (the cat) draped over my shoulder as he likes to be carried around the garden so he can sniff various things. He's a little weirdo.

    Having sat and watched the time and effort the parents put into building their nest, incubating and now feeding their chicks, i think i would feel pretty devastated if a domestic animal was responsible for killing them. The amount of feeds they do a day, pretty much every 20 mins between them, must be exhausting. Not to mention the added stress.

    My pair dont seem to care about the cats in the pens, nor my dog in the garden, but hate it if im out there. Go figure.

    This is the female with two of her chicks:

    [​IMG]DSC_0516 by Ned Ster, on Flickr
     
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  13. wind1

    wind1 PetForums VIP

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    The female kept up her protest for nearly 2 hours with only a few minutes break every so often to collect worms and feed. She kept coming right up to the windows so we are wondering if a: she can see us or the cats inside (we closed the curtains for a while but she still kept going), b: she can see her own reflection in the window, c: she doesn't like the hedgehog garden ornament sitting on the wall by the house (I have put this out of sight now).
     
  14. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    It might be the reflection too. She is probably very vigilant at the mo given the chicks are so young. Hopefully things will calm down. Can you put some food out for her (she will find worms etc for the chicks but having some fat pellets etc will help keep her own energy up and she might start to associate you with good things.
     
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  15. wind1

    wind1 PetForums VIP

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    Sad news. I have come home from work and there is no sign of the blackbirds and thinking about it I didn't notice them this morning either. I fixed a mirror to a stick so I could see into the nest and it looks like there is a dead, half chewed baby in there along with 2 eggs, one has a large crack and the other is whole. Would another bird like a blackbird or thrush kill a baby as when all the commotion was going on yesterday evening there was another bird in the hedge? That would explain why the parents were so distressed, if something was attacking the baby. I hope the parents don't try nesting in there again, if they have definitely gone I am going to put something along the hedge to deter them. As much as I love to see the birds and the thought of them nesting and raising babies, I find it too upsetting and stressful when it goes wrong.
     
  16. wind1

    wind1 PetForums VIP

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    The pair came back last night and hung around for a little while but did not go near the hedge (I'm assuming it was the same pair). We have not seen them all day today so I have hung long strips of plastic all along the hedge to blow in the breeze and put an owl ornament in the hedge too. Hopefully this will be enough to deter any more from nesting in there. It looks most attractive!
     
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  17. rona

    rona Still missing my boys

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    Most probably a Magpie but Jays, crows and most other corvids raid nests. Also Squirrels eat baby birds
     
    #17 rona, Mar 30, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2017
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  18. wind1

    wind1 PetForums VIP

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    I have removed the nest from the hedge. The baby was complete apart from the head, that had been chewed off. Both eggs were broken and empty. Such a shame. What would chew the head off? It can't have been a cat because the position of the nest would have made it impossible for a cat to sit there chewing it, if it could even get in there to get it. Another bird surely wouldn't do that sort of damage, so maybe it was a squirrel. Or possibly a rat? The blackbirds are still around occasionally so I'm hoping they have found somewhere else to start again, I'm just glad it's not in my garden!
     
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  19. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

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    Nature is cruel :(

    I'm sure they will be more successful with the next try! ;)
     
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  20. leashedForLife

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    cats often eat the entire head of a small animal, & leave the rest - on a tiny carcass, the brains may be the 'best' part [high fat content, packed with calories].
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    I've come across entire nests of neonate rabbits, all decapitated - the small bodies scattered around the shredded cover of the bowl-like nest.
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    A rat would be much-more likely to eat a nestling / fledgling entire; so would a raccoon or a squirrel [except for the bare legs / feet, no meat on those]. Rats & 'coons will also eat birds' eggs - so will cats, including chickens' eggs - duck eggs are a harder shell for a cat to break into, they can do it in some cases, but it's a struggle.
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