Tragedy abounds: the blackbird saga

Even on a summer’s night, terrible things can happen. And what I notice is that even though there’s no one really to blame, you somehow feel accountable, even making up reasons why you are, and believing them.

And on the grand scheme of things, the tragedy was tiny. Negligible, really. But micro- or macrocosm, tragedy is tragedy. I often think that the worst tragedies are those where nobody mourns. Where the dead person or creature had no-one to feel sad at their passing. To me, that’s the tragedy, which is why when deaths happen to animals I know, even livestock (or deadstock as they’re subsequently known) I do mourn them, even if I didn’t know them. Even if it’s only a fleeting sadness; regret on their behalf. I’m sorry that they don’t get to enjoy the magnificence of life on earth; especially if they’re only babies.

baby blackbird

This little chap was somehow caught by a certain exuberant collie at 1:30 am last night, and although I got her in once, I let her out again without checking outside (← see, accountable), and it suffered a second mauling before I got there. One wing was a bit damaged, but it seemed relatively superficial – wing feathers grow back, although the damage always looks terrible. It was going to be a race against shock.

At 6:00 am it was wide awake and woozy but making extremely shrill birdy noises, very loud. Nothing wrong with its lungs. I dragged my pj’d arse into the garden and (not knowing about the past-time ‘worm wanging’ (thanks to Wes Gillard for the advice) didn’t find any worms for half an hour.

The worms, once caught, were very active, and tried to escape many times. One even got stuck in the sieve that I washed them in! As I tweezered each one towards the cavernous opening of the blackbird’s beak, they reared away, as if they knew their fate! I thought they were just supposed to be a pink fleshy nervous system … not so much.

Official: worms are weird

Five worms later, baby blackbird quietened down, so I popped its tub in a larger plastic box and covered it with a large silk scarf so it didn’t suffocate.

I searched the whole town for wormy things – not feeling too talented at worm-finding – and finally returned with a suet block with chopped up mealy worms. Alas too late. Not even agave syrup got this little guy going again.

There’s no point in being mad at the dog; jumping on small, vulnerable creatures as they try to escape her is one of her favourite past times. To her credit, she’s normally rubbish, so maybe there was something wrong with this little bird. Maybe it was stunned after falling out of the nest.

At least its mum and dad both cared about it. They chinked their alarms and flew about like crazy things; it was how I knew something was happening. Blackbirds get up early, but not usually in the middle of the night.

All part of living in the country, I guess. Ramble over.

Image credit: Earthworms in Compost by Petr Kratochvil under a CC0 1.0 licence.

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About Sakina Murdock

Greedy, creative, gregarious bird, writing from the bonny northern hills of Cumbria's Eden. There's a lot of soul in this place and the inspiration to create is everywhere, even on the bleakest days. Soulfood. Don't just subsist.
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