A sad postscript to my post about the midnight blackbird drama. After finding two of the chicks dead yesterday, Finbar found a third one this morning. One had drowned in the rain water butt the two others were just dead, from exhaustion, cold, fear, maybe, but not the cats.The blackbirds have gone, either taking the last chick somewhere safer, or because they have none left.


Nature’s law,

Build a haven, fragile and ephemeral,

Hunt the bright glint of beetle and worm,

Back and forth, ever on the wing, no time to rest,

No oblivion in sleep, ever-watchful,

For the night hunters prowl.

Ask for little,

For no stark, white winter death,

No spring flood.

Hope for only hunger but not famine,

Give no names, no love, to the open mouths,

Clamouring one day, cold and still the next,

For the task is to be redone while the summer lasts,

Over and again, the feeding and the rearing.

No time to think of death,

No tears to weep, no grieving for so many lost,

For no heart, not even a blackbird’s,

Is strong enough for that.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

47 thoughts on “Blackbirds”

      1. I remember my parents had a little robin’s nest outside their house in a little tree, and we would see the eggs. They hatched the day before we were leaving to come home, and my kids were thrilled to see the little chicks.
        The next day as we were leaving, we saw one of the chicks dead on the ground… whether it was foxes or it just fell, I don’t know, but we all felt the keen sense of loss of that little life that hadn’t experienced anything yet… 😦

      2. Most songbirds nest in trees as out of the way of predators and as discreet as possible. If a baby falls out it breaks its neck and dies, but they tend to stay in the nest until they can fly. Blackbirds build close to the ground where every predator can see it and most can get at it. Even babies that can’t fly don’t hurt themselves if they fall out of the nest and they start to pop out when they’re too young. And they die. So sad!

    1. It just seems so unnecessary to me. They nest in stupid places, the chicks leap out before they are anywhere near autonomous and they die. If they would only stay in the nest until they could fly the mortality rate would drop considerably. But they won’t. Tragic.

  1. Nature may be cruel but it also just “is.” We impact it but it will do what it will. We observe, we intervene if we can, if we must, but it will have its way.

    1. There often seems to be no point in intervening either. I’ve done this often now, tried to put wayward chicks back into nests where it’s relatively safe, but they won’t stay there. They have no chance if they leave before they can at least flutter to safety, but nature hasn’t added it to the blackbirds instinctive reactions to nest in more sensible places, or for the babies just to stay put.

      1. I agree. I get sad, even when they’re not babies. I’m still haunted by a crow I watched dying. I wanted to comfort him. Remember when there was that illness that killed so many?

      2. I don’t remember, no. We probably have different pesticides that kill different birds at different times. How do you comfort a dying bird? They know we’re responsible for almost all the awful things that happen to them.

      3. I think it may have been West Nile virus. Lots of crows around here died–my girls were still pretty young then. The other crows were cawing from the tree at or for him, but the crow was on the ground dying. I just looked at his eyes, and I felt so sad. We had been told not to touch them, so I called animal control, and I think they came and got his body later.

      4. Crows would probably do that. Sensitive birds. We had a couple of doves just drop dead out of the sky during the bird flu epidemic a few years ago. We just buried them quietly. No doubt if we’d reported it the authorities would have exterminated all the doves in the area.

      5. Thankfully, they did not exterminate the crows. I think they tested the bodies for the virus. The crow population did drop for a couple of years, but it seems pretty hearty these days.

    1. There has been a big crop of baby birds this year. Probably because the winter was non-existent and fewer adults died. They’ve nested a lot earlier too so there’s not much leaf cover for the nests and the fledglings. And the cats! So many hungry strays as well as the amateurs.

  2. “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.” -The Beatles

    1. I like the broken wings idea in this song though I’ve yet to hear a blackbird singing at night. If they make a noise after nightfall it’s because something’s trying to eat them!

    1. No, I haven’t, Kathy, reblog away 🙂 It is sad. I hope they’ll build their next nest somewhere the cats won’t disturb them. Though round here that’s going to be quite an exploit.

    1. Finbar’s fine thanks. Well, as fine as he ever is. The mad behaviour will never get any better. Funnily enough, I think he sensed that the baby birds were going to do something stupid. All through the day before he kept going outside to sit beneath the nest looking up at it. He never pays any attention to birds usually. Something has been dismantling the nest on the ladder. I hope it’s Margot using the material to build a new one somewhere more sensible. Vain hope probably.

  3. How cruel nature is in our estimation and how moved we are with inward sorrow to see life crushed by circumstance. Keep reminding us Jane lest we forget the crucifixion.

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