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Blackbird nestlings think I'm dad. (1 Viewer)

Chirrup

Member
A Blackbird has built its nest in a Honeysuckle bush growing against my neighbours fence in my rear garden. They are currently about 9 or 10 days old and to make matters even worse, the mother bird is raising them on her own after the male Blackbird appears to have been driven off by a rival which has built its nest in my Bay Tree, about 18 feet from the Honeysuckle. The bush is not very big and when it rained a few days ago it collapsed slightly, causing the nest to drop to an alarming angle and also opened up the bush allowing the rain to fall directly onto the nest soaking the three nestlings. When the Honeysuckle bush collapsed, they had very few feathers and the smallest, I guess youngest chick is very weak and has large areas of bare skin. The mother spent the night brooding her cold and wet chicks and I spent a sleepless night worried that I would find the nest and its contents scattered on the the ground. To my great relief the nest with its chicks were still in place and all alive but very cold, wet and hungry.

I set about repairing the damage and used a sweeping broom to push up and support the Honeysuckle bush and this corrected the angle of the nest to normal. I also placed a medium sized plastic dust scoop on top of the bush to try and prevent the rain falling on the nest, which was just in time before for a heavy downpour of rain, and it does appear to have helped and very possibly even saved the lives of the chicks. The next day it rained constantly and it was obvious the dust scoop on its own was not enough. I decided to use a piece of thin ply wood which was a bit bigger than than scoop and put that on the bush as well and this has kept most of the vertical rain off the nest, but when the wind changes direction and blows on the front of the Honeysuckle, I worry that the rain will once more soak the nest, so I am keeping a plastic sheet handy just in case. I remember watching the mother bird return to her nest for the first time after I made the repairs. She paused for a couple of seconds on the fence lath just in front of the entrance to her nest and looked back through veranda window into my kitchen. I had been waiting for her to return and she turned her head and looked straight at me as if to say, I can see you have you made a few changes, but can I trust you?

I looked online for info on how to feed Blackbird chicks and most said Mealworms or dog food, which apparently are a good substitute when their normal food is not around. I purchased a small bag of dried Mealworms (89p) as I could not find the live version and this appeared to be the best option. However after rehydrating them I discovered that dried Mealworms are little more than empty hollow shells with little nutria. So I decided to purchased a cheap can of dog food from Morrisons (I am ashamed to say .45p) and carefully cut it into small pieces, sifting out any offal and bits of bone. At this time the chicks were little more than two or three days old and without any feathers, they appeared grateful for the dog food I gave them in between the meagre scraps their mother collected from the neighbouring gardens. However due to the poor quality of the dog food, I have today started feeding the chicks hard boiled eggs and they seem to be OK with it. Their mother desperately needs help looking after her young chicks especially now she is constantly harassed by a very aggressive male Blackbird who chases her away when ever she returns to or leaves the nest. I have grown to hate this male Blackbird as he does not appear to have a female partner, nest or chicks of his own and his sole purpose in life is to fight with other male Blackbirds and keep all the food in my garden for himself. The chicks in the Bay Tree flew the nest a couple of days ago along with both their parents and have disappeared. I sometimes wonder if the lone male Blackbird is in fact the father of my Blackbird chicks and has for some reason turned into a psychopath and is now hell bent on destroying his family.

This morning the chicks looked very de-shelved and I was convinced the younger one was dead as he did not move when I touched him or respond to my offer of food. I managed to coax the eldest chick to eat some egg, but the middle size chick was not interested. I think they had a very tough, cold wet night. In the afternoon the rain stopped and out came the sun. This seemed to bring new life into the chicks and to my great surprise and joy, even the youngest chick was up and begging for freshly made boiled egg. Keeping out the rain saved these chicks and gave them time to dry out, I am thoroughly amazed how resilient these tiny and beautiful creatures are. I think and hope the worst is over. The mother trusts me now and the chicks think I'm their dad. The next chapter will be fledgling day and fighting off the psychopath in the Bay Tree.
 
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KC Foggin

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Hi there and a warm welcome to you from those of us on staff here at BirdForum!

You've done a wonderful thing and I am very happy the mother hasn't abandoned the nest with you helping out. That usually happens so cheers to you and fingers crossed for the little ones. Please keep us updated if you don't mind. ;)
 

Chirrup

Member
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Chirrup

Member
Hi there and a warm welcome to you from those of us on staff here at BirdForum!

You've done a wonderful thing and I am very happy the mother hasn't abandoned the nest with you helping out. That usually happens so cheers to you and fingers crossed for the little ones. Please keep us updated if you don't mind. ;)


The mother seems to trust me and she obviously has a very strong maternal instinct as she always returns in spite of the many difficulties she has to endure. She returned while I was feeding her chicks just a short wile ago and sat on my lawn watching me and waiting for me to leave, she didn't make any noise or show distress. Before I had chance to leave, the aggressive male Blackbird chased her away, but she was back on the nest a few minutes later. I get the impression this is one bird that is not going to give up. The biggest problems are the aggressive male Blackbird and the many cats which are everywhere. Many thanks for your praise.
 
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Chirrup

Member
In spite of there being little interest in my post, I have good and very bad news. All three chicks fledged today, the two older ones in the very early hours before it was even light and the younger weaker chick hours later and by accident, he really needed a least two more days in the nest to build his strength. That's the good news, the bad news is very bad. As I mentioned in my first post, the chicks have been raised without a father and she has built her nest slap bang in the middle of a crazy psycho male blackbirds territory whose only purpose in life is to attack, chase and harass her every time she leaves or returns to her nest. But, it gets worse as an earlier nest was built in a Bay Tree just a few yards away by a female that appears to have two male partners. These also join in the attacks on my bird and all this is really stressing me out big time as there's nothing I can do to stop them. Their chicks fled the nest about a week ago but the female still uses my garden to forage for food and to my annoyance, I have never ever seen my Blackbird spend any time on my lawn let alone forage for food.

This morning at 5.09am, the biggest chick, who really could have done with another day in the nest, was approached by the psycho Blackbird and when the chick went towards him, no doubt expecting to be fed, the psycho attacked him and chased him into the middle of my back garden lawn where the chick was either knocked out or frozen with terror for a full twelve minutes. I know all this as I set up a car dash-cam to record the whole drama, which is still carrying on now as write with the loud squawks that Blackbirds make when they fight. To my relief the chick got up and hopped over to the base of the Bay Tree to try and hide. The other 'middle' chick was also attacked later by more than one Blackbird and we have not seen or heard him since, we can only assume he was killed.
The third and smallest chick was off the nest but still in the Honeysuckle Bush on a thin tendrel. We had not seen their mother for over an hour and both chicks were calling for her. I knew the youngest chick was more likely to trust me so I decided to put food on the edge of the nest hoping she would feed it to the chicks. The small chick was about three days away from being big enough to fledge so I did not want to scare him by trying to feed him off the nest, even though he was perched right next to it. How ever when he saw I was putting food on the nest, he turned towards me and opened his beak asking me to feed him. He was very used to me feeding him in the nest and so I gave him three helpings of dog food puree. As I moved backwards he stepped forward towards me onto very thin shoots and almost fell off. When I returned a minute later to see where he was, he had fallen on the floor and had pressed himself against the lower fence panel looking terrified. He had only ever seen me at nest height and I think seeing me towering above him scared him as even though I had just fed him and was crouching, when I offered him more food he moved away and I realised I had lost his trust.

There is lots more but its not very pleasant so I will sum up by saying that even though the mother is still trying her best to feed them, she cant as there is one female and three male Blackbirds hunting her relentlessly (as I write) and I know they will kill her or prevent her from feeding her chicks so they will starve. This evening I am not in a good place. I keep my sanity by telling myself that this nature and they are wild creatures and I cannot infer human attributes on them.
 
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Chirrup

Member
Lots of fighting squawks very early this morning and then loud feed me noises from the chicks, then it went quiet. Iv looked everywhere and they are gone. The two that we know were left were not capable of flight but we cant find their bodies.
 

dantheman

Bah humbug
Good on you. Normally its not good to 'interfere' with mother nature but obviously you could do here and give that vital bit of extra care ... it seemed to be going well so nice one for that.

Unfortunately some creatures seem to have territorial wayward instincts/too many hormones. Hopefully and fingers crossed the larger young were able to move further away and out of harms way. There will be another season next year ...




(I think you probably haven't had many comments partly because the thread is tucked away hidden in a specific county subforum, a more general one such as 'birds and birding' or even better one of the garden bird threads should have seen more)
 
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