An Unsatisfactory Ending

One of the drawbacks of real life when compared to the tidy plotlines of story, is that it refuses to be shaped into any kind of ending, let alone the uplifting ones beloved of Hollywood.  When it’s the lives we’re living, where does one fade out, run the credits and play the epic power ballad?

So it is with the series of posts on the blackbirds outside our back door that I’ve been running for the last three or four months.

Last week I reported that Mrs Skanky, widowed, was trying to bring up three chicks on her own. We didn’t know if she’d kill herself in trying, or bring back insufficient food for all three chicks, leaving only one or two to survive, or whether all three would grow to adulthood. What we’d forgotten about is that real life is seldom that conclusive.

For four days it looked as if, against all the odds, she and her chicks were going to prosper.

Then on Friday morning, we heard the sounds of blackbird scolding (and boy, can she scold!) outside the kitchen. Mrs Skanky was sitting high at the top of the hedge, well away from the nest. The nest itself was empty and tipped over.

Kate checked the small bushes at the base of the wall, where a fluffy ball the size of an apple  opened its mouth in an obvious ‘feed me’ gesture. Kate righted the nest, scooped up the chick and dropped it back in the nest. A few minutes later Mrs S returned to her now solitary offspring and examined the nest as if to say ‘what the hell happened here?’ We assumed that something, perhaps a cat, perhaps an adult magpie had attacked the nest, but we couldn’t know.

For the next two days she continued to feed the last chick, and then yesterday we looked, and it was empty. We’ve seen Mrs S around; she may have moved the youngster to cover, and hidden him somewhere; we couldn’t find a body, although a predator could have carried him off.

And then yesterday afternoon, I heard a little quiet birdsong from the main flowerbed, on the opposite side of the the garden, some fifty yards from the nest. Mother must have smuggled him out at first light, but there sat the missing chick, with Mrs S in attendance.

This sort of happy ending is that rarity in life, a moment of uplift, so I’ve decided that I’m going to draw a line here under the blackbird saga, because it’s the nearest we get to a happy ending.

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• July 18th, 2011 • Posted in General • Comments: 0