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SW London
A semi-mature, hardy individual who tries to get away with doing as little as possible in gardening as in life, still expects the best results & wonders why she is frequently disappointed! She likes to keep a photographic record of everything, good & frequently bad!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

The euonymus is all aquiver.


Blackbird singing in the dead of night

Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Black bird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free

Lennon & McCartney


The song of the blackbird is the most relaxing birdsong. I can believe that; they are among my most favourite of birds & I love them in the garden. They sit on the highest points & sing their socks off, particularly in the evening. I smile at the way they sit in the pyracantha in the front garden in the winter & burble; the best way I can think of to describe the sound of them seeming sing to themselves.(I believe this is called a sub-song!)

Over the last 3 years we have had a much closer relationship with our local blackbirds, a relationship which has caused me a great deal of stress & anxiety as the birds have nested & raised their young in & around our garden. You would think this would bring joy, which of course it does in some measure, but in an urban area with a high cat population, including our own, it is always a worry.27 May 2009 The first of these closer encounters was 3 years ago when I almost fell over a baby blackbird just sitting ‘under’ a lavender bush. I wondered why it didn’t move & later spotted 2 others in the garden, 1 of which we named ‘Runty’ because his tail feathers were poorly developed & he had feathers sticking up on the top of his head making him easy to spot.

31 May 2009 3  On reading up about blackbirds I found that in urban areas they will often have 3-4 broods but with a smaller number of eggs than in the country-side. If the nest is disturbed the chicks will fledge early but will not fly but sit still & (hopefully) hidden on the ground waiting to be fed. Sadly I found 1 chick dead soon after & after a couple of weeks when it seemed all was well with the others I saw poor Runty dead on the paving of a neighbours garden.

Siblings 05 June 2009 Last year our local pair initially successfully raised 2 young which we saw regularly in our garden after they had fledged. We were then thrilled on our return from holiday to find the parents building a new nest in our wisteria. Needless to say it was also a good reason to put off the mass pruning I was about to do on the wisteria & rose which were about to take over the back of the house.

DSCN2715 Two more young birds  were successfully raised & we more or less happily put up with the streaks of guano on the windows. The nest, when I eventually was able to restore some order to the greenery was a thing of delight.

DSCN2719 This year again 2 chicks have been successfully raised from a nest in a garden at the back of us but now, after some initial investigations by the birds a new nest is currently being built in the euonymus which climbs up the wall next to our kitchen. Joy & panic in equal measure! The fence between us & next door ends just at that point & makes cat access potentially so easy.  I have put some wire across the area in the hope that it may stop a cat getting to the nest. Blackbirds are extremely successful in keeping unwanted predators away from chicks on the ground ( I have seen them see off cats & magpies) but a nesting bird & chicks is rather more vulnerable. In the meantime I keep watch as the birds fly in & out with beaks full of material & the leaves quiver as all is adjusted to their satisfaction.


  1. Arh - we had some blackbird chicks being fed in to the garden couple of weeks ago. Luckily it was raining a lot so the cat was in!

    1. It makes me laught because they always look so huge in comparison to the parents.

  2. Such a distinctive and gorgeous sound I agree. I have a regular visiting blackbird but he has yet to set up home with a mate in my garden! Anything I can do to encourage?

    1. Hmmm, I don't really know. I think all birds like lots of cover & I guess for nesting it is quite dense shrubbery. We haven't done anything specific!

  3. They do have lovely songs. A few weeks ago the ones protecting the nest near me had a right old swoop around my cats. Spook was scared and bolted home but unusually Hebe was more intent on getting near the nest although was finally put off by a jug of water I chucked at her. They are such a worry.

    1. Female cats are usually the most intrepid hunters.

      Mrs Blackbird is now sitting on the nest so eggs have been laid.

      More worrying.