Friday, 25 June 2010

A tiny post, after all

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Really can hardly type, but for some reason I feel compelled to share a small avian drama with you.

This morning I saw a small rook that had, I assumed, fallen from its nest. It appeared unhurt but unable to fly and was just sitting in the rough ground under the horse chestnut, blinking at the world. I kept the dogs away and hoped that it might get up the energy to fly off.

Just now, I took the dogs out and there was the little black bird. It had moved about thirty yards, which I took as a good sign, but was still doing the hapless sitting and blinking thing. Its parents were roaring about overhead, shrieking madly at me if I got too close. Also, amazingly, one of the oystercatchers, who acts as a decoy while his mate is on her nest, was circling about the chick, as if watching over it. (This might be sheer sentimentality on my part.)

I went in, unsure what to do, and called my sister.

'Can you put it in a box and feed it milk?' she said, vaguely.

'I'm a bit afraid the parents might dive on me in a terrifyingly Hitchcockian manner,' I said.

'Yes, yes,' she said. 'Much too scary. Probably let nature take its course then.'

'Red in tooth and claw?' I said.

'Red in tooth and claw,' she said. I could tell I no longer had her full attention. 'Poor little rook,' she said, vaguely. 'Really, all I can think about are my new curtains.'

The curtains, it transpired, were a triumph of unparalleled proportions.

'Maybe take it some bread dipped in milk,' she said.

In the end, I took it some Dundee cake which my gorgeous friend Matthew had brought me yesterday afternoon. Let it eat cake, I thought.

I scattered the crumbs around, as it watched me with its shining black eyes. Once I got close up, I could see it was not a rook at all, but a jackdaw. It sat very still, its feathers all puffed up. The parents and the oystercatcher immediately set up a tag team of diverting cries, so I moved away before I completely freaked them all out.

It is red in tooth and claw. I was brought up on a farm, so I should not be squeamish about this, but the poor tiny thing looked so puzzled and fragile and vulnerable. I am afraid the wily old dog fox who lives in the park will have it for his midnight snack.

I still feel a bit guilty about leaving it out there, but the RSPB website says you should not take in wild birds. I keep thinking of The Pursuit of Love; I am perfectly certain that Linda was always adopting jackdaws with broken wings, and feeding them with milk out of a fountain pen. Or perhaps that was Northey in Don't Tell Alfred. Unfortunately, I do not think I should let Nancy Mitford be my guide in this.

Poor little chap. I did not want to bother him any more by taking a photograph, but he looked a bit like this:

Jackdaw fledgling

1 comment:

  1. I hate it when this happens. We have a lot of glass in our home and subsequently have birds flying into windows daily. I no longer rush outside but must say only the occasional bird doesn't make it. One time a there were a number of little ones in a nest outside the kitchen window. It seemed they'd been there for weeks and I was pretty sure they were ready to fly. Whilst washing the dishes, a huge butcher bird was trying to get its bloody great beak into the nest. There was a great carry on from mamma and papa and I rushed outside with tea towel flying. In the end, I took myself off outside with a book and sat as protector of the young. Mamma and papa seemed oblivious to me sitting there and flew in and out with little morsels for their babies. Periodically they would land on the fairy lights which hung around the patio area. Can't remember how long I had been reading for but suddenly I realized it was very quiet. Got out the ladders and had a peek - all gone. What a mixture of feelings I had that day - amazement at the timing of my guard and the sudden silence of the 'flitting'.


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