A Song

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Being a Bird Parent - Blue Tit Baby on Head

There is a certain song that I recognise, the faint piercing notes can be quite a distance away but my ear always picks it up.  But it’s not just my ears, it’s a song that will always speak to my heart.  I try to whistle a few notes back, despite the fact that I have never been able to whistle.  I whistle whilst standing in the street, even in middle class neighbourhoods.  It embarrasses my husband.  But then I catch him whistling the same notes too.  (He can at least whistle though).

They say that a smell, a taste, a noise can transport you immediately into the past.  I know that this song will always be in my heart and whenever I hear it in the future, it will take me back to this summer gone and to a little bird called Manky.

Manky-bird has a very definite hold in our hearts.  It is his song and the song of his kinsmen that we hear, sharp notes echoing through the trees.  Even when we are on the other side of town, we pause and listen, sometimes whistle back.  It’s not likely to be one of our babies that far away but we are captivated all the same, watching for the slightest movement.

But the truth is that we probably will never know how Manky-bird has fared.  Hopefully, she is still faring.  I ask my husband if the blue tit we’ve just spotted has painted toes and we both laugh and stare hard, squinting, trying to focus on fast-moving, tiny legs, whilst knowing that nail varnish does not last forever.   Maybe we should have used a better brand?  Long gone, the tell-tale painted legs, worn or weathered or scratched.

Often I feel guilty, I find it hard to believe that we did enough to give them the best chance in the world, I feel that somehow we should have or could have done more.  It breaks my heart.  Especially when I think of our losses.

But then husband reminds me that from the moment we intervened, they survived a little longer than they would have done anyway.   And I guess we can only do our best.  And do our best for at that time only.  Hindsight always has sharper vision but we were first time parents and all we could do was our best.

(It’s so nerve-wracking for human parents when their offspring learn to drive and get their first wheels, I wonder if bird parents are distressed when their fragile little chick takes to the air for the first time?)

(And isn’t it funny how I still say he for Manky?  She was a little girl, just slower to develop so we couldn’t be sure, but she never sprouted the little funky hairdo of the males).

There is a male blue tit who struts on the telephone wire at the front of the house.  We really need to seal off the holes because we really can’t cope with another birdy summer!  We watch him too.  I think it could be the daddy blue tit from the spring, he’s got quite a pronounced quiff going on.  We watch him from the kitchen window, sometimes the spare bedroom window.  Watching, wondering, hoping that he hasn’t taken up residence again.  He is usually silent but we spot him anyway.  I know that one of the neighbours has been throwing bread on the front grass so maybe that’s why he’s visiting so close to the house.

There is a small flock of birds flying around the back gardens at the moment, some sparrows, some bob-tails (I think most people call them wagtails), some blue tits …  I know.  We stand out on the balcony whistling like nutters.  I just have to hear one note and my heart, I don’t know, soars?  But faint tears come to the corners of my eyes too.  It’s a bittersweet song.  Because we will never know.

A week or so ago, a blue tit actually came to our bird feeder in the garden.  We watched.  (We can spot a blue tit now at quite a distance, trust me).  A little, sprightly thing, perched nearly upside-down by the hole of the seed feeder.  We watched.  It pulled out the seeds, spat the ones that it clearly did not approve of onto the ground and ate the ones which took its fancy.  We looked at each other and wondered.  Wild birds don’t tend to be fussy or picky, you know?  So we grabbed a tripod and camera and set it up for the perfect shot, closeup, just in case there was any paint on the legs, you know.  But it didn’t come a-visiting again.  At least not that we noticed.  And even sentimental me has to draw a line at sitting in the window for twelve hours at a time.  Life gets in the way.  I am not a bird watcher, it seems.

But we’re still wondering.

Manky has a Strong Grip

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Wordless Manky

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Manky is probably the most photographed blue tit in the world, ever.  But hey, at least he/she/it’s cute!

(I’m experimenting with a new (to me, at the very least!) feature.  You can click on a photo to view it in a ‘carousel’ where you should be able to comment and ‘like’ each photo individually.  Well, that’s the idea anyhow.  Feedback welcome!)

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Release

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Release has obviously always been the plan.  I may sound like a bad bird-parent but release would mean having my sitting room back, a clean sitting room where I would be able to sit and knit or work on the computer without dodging poop and being pecked at (and that would also mean that you would get to see more photos).  Release from the constant focus and commitment of being a bird-parent.  I have a lot of respect for you child-parents who are signed up for at least eighteen years of this.  (Although, hopefully your babies will master the art of bowel control one day).

Release.

Release is about letting go, the moving on from a particular episode.  Do you know what?  I don’t think that there will be release after all.  Manky will always be with us, in our hearts and in our memories.  And I am not the kind of parent who doesn’t worry.  I worry.  A lot.

Even when (and it’s looking more like a when rather than an if) Manky goes, I will worry for her (or he/it).  I’m that kind of person.  It’s why release is not an overly joyous occasion.  It might be the mark of success that she goes free but what happens after that?  Survival is a different matter.  And not an easy one.  And this Manky-bird of ours has a track record.  It’s not a good one.  (I’ll tell you about some of her hairy escapades another day but you all already know that she’s something of a miraculous survivor anyway).  No, release is bittersweet.

I suppose it’s an issue for all parents, whether of children or of birds.  How long can you protect them for?  How long do you keep intervening to keep them safe?  When Manky goes free, she could be caught by a cat within an hour.  It isn’t a pleasant thought but it’s a reality.  (Husband says it isn’t nature because cats aren’t natural, especially not the ones round here).  Have we failed her if that happens?

But is it fair to keep a wee wild blue tit in a sitting room for the rest of her life?  Is that fair or natural?  (To any of us).  No, there comes a time when even Manky-birds must face the world alone, to take their chances.  However hard or harsh that may be.

We turned our balcony into an aviary last week with plastic mesh that’s usually used over plants to keep birds out.  We also plugged up the hole to the drain pipe.  (It’s best not to give Manky too many chances).  It took two days to tempt and tease her out, we’d get her on to a shoulder, a hand or a head and slowly shuffle out of the door.  We’d shuffle out with her on us but then she’d realise what the game was and dart back inside to safety, clinging to the curtain and looking out with big eyes at the world beyond.  You would have thought that there was a force field in place where that door used to be.  She’d fly towards the door of her own accord then ping back off the empty space.  Crazy bird.

It’s obviously not curiosity that’s killing this bird.

But she got there, starting with swift darts out then back in to the safety of her sitting room then spending more and more time out there, investigating the tomato plants and peeling mastic off the window trims which are waiting to go back up.  There’s a lot of things out there for a Manky-bird to peck.

Yesterday she was out and could hear the neighbours below talking so she started chatting to them like she does us then got frightfully indignant when they didn’t answer her.  She also likes to sunbathe in a hanging flower-pot, wings spread out, belly in the dirt, soaking up the sun.

Her confidence has grown.  We sometimes don’t shut the (inside) sitting room door fully because we know she likes to hear us and has never tried to get through the gap into the hall.  (She’ll sit on the fish tank, staring through the gap and will us to come to her but no more).  The other day husband was sitting in the bedroom (well, we have been relegated from the sitting room) when this bird suddenly darted through the door!  He had a hard time persuading her to go back out the window on to the balcony.  She wouldn’t let him catch her either (which kind of bodes well).  This morning Manky rose with the dawn (she’s always been a bit of a layabout, I was up before her the other day) and was chirruping to the seagulls.  She didn’t pay us any attention until we started getting up and having breakfast.  Then she put in her own requests.  We told her to wait, as we always do.  Before we knew quite what had happened, a little blue tit had squeezed in through the gap in the barely open windows (it’s been a real scorcher) and was scowling at us from the curtain pole.

We put her food outside yesterday too.  She still has a cube (well, actually these ones are bottle-shaped technically) of baby food daily.  Beef stroganoff, her favourite, it’s the one with the highest protein count (and that isn’t brilliantly high, an adult macaroni cheese ready meal, worryingly, has more protein in) and it isn’t chicken.  There’s something wrong about feeding chicken to a blue tit.  Very wrong.

She likes her food and water high up.  She doesn’t come down to ground anymore.  It’s all good things.

Her little feet are perfectly made for perching and climbing, she can scale brick walls quite happily and has a funny little habit of hanging upside down on the washing line.

This afternoon we took down the net.  Eventually she took a couple of flights out into the big wide world.

Manky’s free.  Manky’s fledged.

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It’s a Manky Life

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I can’t believe that a month has passed since four of our blue tits fledged!  It’s been a really busy month for me too and this post has been delayed too by an invasion of gremlins in my computer which meant that I haven’t been able to process any photos to share either.  Ugh, backlog of photos.  To add to the already existing backlog of photos.  Double ugh.

We still have Manky.  Manky reigns supreme (which makes me think of the phrase ‘blue tit supreme’ and that’s not a very tasteful pun at all!) in our sitting room.  No, sorry, I lied.  His sitting room.  We are welcome at his screamed invitation to come in and sit awhile with him, talking to him and let him sit on and peck at us.  We are also expected to provide food at appropriate intervals, appropriate food.

Manky has standards when it comes to food, he is a bird of particular tastes.  He has gone off the dry mealworms now and will only eat the fresh ones.  These can only be bought from a shop on the other side of town so it’s not especially easy to acquire them.  We know that he doesn’t approve of the dry ones because he was throwing them at us in disgust.  And not eating them.  There’s not much point in giving him food that he’s only going to reject.  Besides, I don’t take kindly at having mealworms of any kind thrown at me.  (Neither did I ever think that mealworms would be such a dominant part of my life, especially not the ‘fresh’ variety but Manky is definitely the top of this pack and we, his humble servants, acquiesce to his every demand).  He stills loves melon and baby food.  I worry because if and when we get to release then I’m not sure what he’s going to eat.  Neither melon nor baby food are readily available to wild birds, for some reason, and this does mean he’s going to face quite a deficit in his diet.  Fortunately things like mealworms do exist in the Real Bird World and he does pick them out of the tub himself before flying off with them.  I’ve been trying to get him to eat bird food, you know a seed mix, but you’d have thought that I was trying to poison him.  I even went to trouble of finding a baby bite food (tiny pieces instead of whole pieces) but he didn’t eat that either.  I tried sneaking a little bit of it into his baby food.  Oh dear, that didn’t go down well!  So no bird food yet.

(He’s sat on the top of my screen watching me write this post at the moment, he leans to inspect it every few seconds and if I put the mouse to the top of the screen then he’ll quite happily chase it.  Are blue tits meant to chase mice?!)

He loves mud baths (we have a really large pot plant/tree thing in one corner and for some reason all the water sat on the surface rather than sinking through the soil the last time we watered it).  He makes quite a mess.  Talking of mess, birds cannot physically control their um, poop muscles and therefore will never be house trainable.  I know this.  There is an awful lot of evidence to prove this fact too.  So gross.  If he was trainable then you can be sure that I’d have certain expectations.  As it is, visions of little bird nappies keep popping into my head.  But apparently freedom to express ‘normal’ behaviour is one of the welfare standards and that includes for pooping.  Bless his cotton socks.  He pecks at everything.  He’s got quite a fierce peck on him, you don’t expect it of a bird that size.  We found out that he like fruit loops (that neon coloured American breakfast cereal) when I caught him pecking at a friend’s child’s precious artwork.  Half of them were gone!  Our relationship dimmed for a while and the artwork went safely into a cupboard.  Then I found out the damage that he’s done to my dictionary.  Fortunately he had already gone to bed and as his bedtime is sacrosanct (dim the lights, turn down the speakers, whisper), he and I didn’t meet until the next morning when my mood was under appropriate control.  I love that birdy, I promise you that, but there are limits.  I would say that he was leaving a blue tit sized trail of destruction but you might underestimate the damage an 11g bird can do (he can balance on a greeting card).  Let’s go with blue tit scaled trail of destruction.  Well, at least the fruit loop episode proved that he’s discovering new food sources for himself.  And he’s found a new water source too, the filters on the back of the fish tank.  Fortunately there are no fish in there at the moment because I’d have hairy feelings about that.

(He’s now trying to ‘help’ me type, this mainly involves pecking.  Chasing the hands is such a good game!  Even his toenails are as sharp as needles).

His flying has got really confident now, he can swoop and turn mid-flight rather than just plunge from A to B.  This is a good sign of progress but he’s already losing his baby feathers, so tiny!  I worry about him moulting because I’m sure he could do with all the feather he can get!  But the adult colouring is coming through quite clearly now, much more vibrant, especially that blue.

Talking of colour raises an issue that we’re facing at the moment: gender.  We have quite happily used the male for our birds, it’s just easier.  As his feathers develop, Manky doesn’t seem to be male.  He doesn’t have the well-defined top-knot that they seem to develop quite early (Sneaky and Rocky both had it) and the adult colouring on the face definitely suggests female.  So he might be a she.  Which means we’re now rather confused about how to call the bird.  I’ve settled for an intriguing combination of he/she/it.  But Manky doesn’t recognise the expression ‘good girl‘ so I am rather having to stick to male gender terms.  Ah well.

When we go out, we put the radio on and tune it to that highly intellectual talk station so that he has something to keep him company.  It’s often the Afternoon Play.  He has very cultured tastes.

It’s a Manky life.  He seems to be enjoying it.

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Bird Words

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This is a follow-up to yesterday’s wordless (mostly) post where I uploaded some of the photos of our baby blue tits from last week.

My mind has been on the weather, following the emerging news stories from Mid Wales especially and reports from the flooded out Springwatch team.  They talk of severe ‘summer’ storms but there was nothing summer about this one, even by this country’s standards.  I felt besieged within my home, the storm relentless and I could only think of four fledglings that had just gone their own way in the world.  Where does your responsibility end?  An equal chance to others of their species was all I legally had to promise them.  Can you take responsibility for them once they leave the nest?  Can you somehow change their choices, their decisions?  I don’t know.  I’ve asked myself those questions time and again.  It’s partly my mood and personality anyway.

We lost two.  We know that much.

But the other two?  We don’t know.  They could have roosted, made a sensible decision as to where to perch or hide.  Who knows.  There were quite a few sparrows darting in and out the rambling rose last week, I don’t think I’ve seen any back yet.  Where did they go?  Are they safe?  I don’t know.  I don’t know how this Nature thing works.  Baby birds don’t really come when you call them anyway, even puppies are more responsive but they have grown now and we only know their baby call.  We will keep our eyes peeled.

We are keeping our eyes peeled; husband rushed into the room the other day and grabbed something.  A little while later he wandered back in and I noticed that it was the binoculars that he had secured.  I asked him why he’d wanted those.  He mumbled something about having thought he’d seen something.  Something?  A something.  A blue tit something?  Maybe.  Was it?  No, just a leaf on a bush at a very long distance.  We call from the balcony too sometimes.  There are few birds out even now.

Last week we were starting to think that perhaps Manky would never be able to fly.  There was a lot of flapping but no take-off ever, maybe it just wasn’t going to be possible for him (we refer to them all as ‘he’ regardless).  We built him a ‘ladder’ to the curtain pole so he spend some time at the same level as the others, we had to help him perch then he made the ascent in clownish side steps.  But no, Manky has yet again overcome his odds.  He is flying.  A little clumsy at times, some messy landings but he is getting there.  He even landed upside down on the ‘ladder’ the other day.  I cheer him, going Good Boy Manky whenever possible.  He sometimes must think he’s a budgie because he trills and trills, most unlike his brothers’ calls.  He was yelling his head off on Saturday morning.  I went in and found him perched on the mirror frame.  I asked him if he was stuck.  He took offence and pretended to ignore me.  I told him to fly off he wanted to be somewhere else.  In the end, I lifted him off and let him fly from my hand.  It happened twice.  I’m sure that he was calling me.  Husband is cynical.  Sunday morning he was reaching great new heights, the tops of the bookcases.  Again, I heard him yelling for all he was worth.  I found him and told him he was a Good Boy then he fell silent.  It happened at least twice.  Husband is cynical.  Although he’s increasingly wary, he seems to be prepared to choose company when it suits.

This morning he took a plunge bath in the water bowl.  Sadly and poignantly proving the point that waterlogged feathers aren’t good for flying.  He went and sulked in the little cactus tree until he dried.

He’s self-feeding too, obsessed with melon and still rather too keen on baby food.  But he chased a worm out of the tub the other day and took it off.  It’s a good sign even if like me you don’t like talk of mealworms, especially not fresh mealworms if you get my meaning.

He’s not ready to go out yet though.  His development will be slow.  We may even have to wait upon this wretched Jet Stream.  Apparently, that’s what’s causing all these problems, it moved.  Husband says that he’s pretty sure that was the theme or cause of some recent end-of-the-world disaster movie.  Very encouraging.

It’s easy to think that once returned to Nature, as if Nature embraces them with open and welcoming arms, that an animal, a bird will be fine.  It is a very mouse eared approach to life, a life where Nature is a beautiful, meaningful Mother Figure who cares for all, a protectrice.  Real life Nature isn’t quite the same.  It is the fledglings that will be particularly hard hit, maybe those still in nests will be sheltered by well-built creations and their parents.  The adult birds will hopefully have both sense and good fortunate in choosing their roosts.  Maybe it’s the way a cruel Nature addresses the balance after a very mild winter.  I don’t know.

Manky is roosting too now, high up on the curtain pole at bedtime.  And of course, now that he is self-feeding, we don’t have to get up at five for feeds.  Ah, the joy.  My body no longer does mornings.

 

He also seems to believe that he is a woodpecker.  He pecks at things continually; the tap-tap-tap of his beak is the soundtrack of our day mixed with his choral renditions.  The curtains (for which he was told off), the very annoying piece of thread hanging off the curtains which is just out to get him (apparently) and the wheel of an ornamental campervan (that’s annoying, beak and metal echo combined, never mind the vandalism).  Plus anything else he fancies having a go at.  We’ve no idea why, he’s the only one who has done it constantly.  Beak cleaning is to be expected (and his preening skills are coming along although he looks so fluffy still, you’d mistake him for a duckling) but this is different.  Investigation?  How to drive humans up the wall when sharing the same room as them?  Who knows.

We still have Manky.

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More Breaking News

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We think Rocky (unsurprisingly) and Birdie were the first out of the ‘nest’.  Birdie suddenly seemed to put a sprint on and overtake his more developed siblings this last week.

Sneaky has also flown now.

Yes, three of them are out!

They have flown out to the magnolia tree in a neighbour’s garden.  Funny enough, there seem to be both a male and female blue tit in that tree, we think it’s the parents.  They’re calling to each other, the babies and the former parents.

They literally just shot out of the door by turns, no warning.  One moment they were here, the next they were gone.

Feisty spent some time trying to egg Manky on, he didn’t have much success.

Finally one of the fledged babies came back up (we’re in a first floor flat) and sat a wee while on the washing line, calling.

Feisty went over to the curtain pole over the door, curious.  He finally hopped out onto the wall then spent a lot of time flying backwards and forwards on the balcony and sitting in my strawberry plant.  He flew eventually.

We can hear them outside and Manky is a little confused by what just happened.  We’re wondering how he’s going to deal with it, maybe he’ll pine or lose motivation.  With Manky, who knows.

This just in, three have flown back inside!

Not sure which three but it looks like they still feel like this is home after all.  We thought that was the last we’d seen of them.  Well, we were going for soft release anyway.  There’s food on the balcony and in here and the door is still open for them.

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Birdy Rights, Wrongs and What Ifs

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Intervention is a funny word, there’s a hint of positivity in it, as though you are somehow nobly going to the rescue, preventing something by your action.  Yet intervention is a dirty word.  You should never intervene in nature.

But like most things in life, it’s not that black and white.  Man has a certain responsibility, a duty of care, I believe and besides, Man has already intervened.  Much of what we admire and assume to be natural in our local environment has already been altered by hundreds if not thousands of years of human activities.  If nature has already been intervened with then we have even more responsibility to step up, to aid and to care.  After all, few other creatures can have such an extreme impact on an ecosystem.

Choosing to step in, to take an action is sometimes instinctive.  We act but there are always consequences.  It is afterwards that we stop to reflect, perhaps not always the best order of events.  Should we have done what we did?  Should we have done something differently?

We tried to do things by the book, following the appropriate protocols with Baby Number One.  We were thwarted by the attitude of the vet and then the time of day, we chose to take a different course of action with the subsequent babies we found.  But should we have acted at all?

Nature is not always a pastoral idyll.  You know that.  I know that.  We know that.

We acted because we cared and the way we acted was decided by the above factors.  We were also inspired by a previous case.  When I was very little, probably even before I started school, a friend of my family somehow came across an abandoned or orphaned nest of blue tits.  I can’t remember the particulars but I do remember those baby birds.  Our friend built them a nest in a margarine tub and that margarine tub went everywhere with her.  She fed them worms.  She got them to fledge successfully.  If she could do it back then when there wasn’t as much information around, we have been fortunate to be able to research things on the internet, then we felt that there was a possibility that we could too.  She was successful.

When you stop to think, many of those personalities of the rescue world and the smaller charities, well they started as an individual who cared, who stepped in and up, who intervened and it grew from there.  I don’t plan to go much further in my career with wildlife, I’m not the biggest fan and I need some rest but the point is you don’t have to be an expert.  It seems to be a modern thing this need for an expert; there is this view that only an ‘expert’ can handle a matter correctly.  What makes an expert?  A piece of paper or experience?  I don’t know; maybe it depends.  Maybe it depends on how loud you’re prepared to shout too.  Even the big national charities, well they started many years ago with someone who cared, someone who wanted to make a difference, someone who intervened.

Therefore, we, as mere individuals, can make a difference.  We can choose to care and we can choose to act.  We may not be experts but we can research and we can inform ourselves.  That’s the almost scary miracle of the internet and other modern communications.

But it still doesn’t answer whether intervention is the right thing.  I don’t know if there ever will be a clear answer to that question.

If we hadn’t of stepped in and rescued the babies then they would have died.  That is a fact.  That is nature.  Nature was disrupted by them precipitating into our bathroom.  I’d rather things didn’t die in my bathroom.  Nature had previously been disrupted by the parents choosing a rather daft and very unnatural nesting site.  It is one thing for babies to fall out of a nest in a tree, that is the natural way.  But this?  Nature was disrupted, had already been intervened in.  By the birds themselves.

Once you choose to step then you have responsibility.  Once you have those birds in your care then you have a duty of care.  Otherwise, you are guilty of neglect and even perhaps cruelty.  It’s a lot to live up to.  By choosing to intervene, you can further disrupt Nature by increasing those baby birds’ chances of survival.  You are often able to improve upon the variables that naturally occur, for example, you can control the amount of food available whereas Nature can be fickle with changes in the weather and the insect population causing many young ones to be lost.

Then there’s the runt.  The runt rarely makes it; that is how it is in Nature.  You may not feel that is a good thing but whether that is wrong or right, well that’s a much more difficult issue to pick apart.  By helping such a weakling to survive, are we doing right or wrong?  What if he can never fly?  The duty of care, the responsibility remains.  Should we have intervened?

I don’t think I can offer any answers, just share some of the ponderings that we are facing and discussing.

We had sad news yesterday, brace yourselves.  We borrowed a car and travelled up to the sanctuary where Baby Number One went because they were holding an open day and we’d rather go to the effort of travelling that far than phone.  (It makes perfect sense in our world).  He didn’t make it.  Perhaps the two journeys and possibly a delay in appropriate care and feeding compromised his chances.

We were sad because we had tried to do the ‘right’ thing.  We were sad because we both feel loss so keenly.

But that brings those questions and issues back to mind.  By choosing not to follow the protocol, by not going with the System, have we done our other birds a favour?  Did we somehow improve their chances of survival and success?  It’s hard to tell, it’s definitely full of what ifs.

Did you know that only two babies are expected to survive out of each blue tit brood, that’s all Nature needs at the very most?  And they can have broods of thirteen.  The loss seems unacceptable in human terms yet should we do all we can to prevent it?  When is it right to intervene?

Tonight our biggest four were wheeling overhead in the sitting room, confident and strong, itching to get out into a much bigger space.  They are ready.  Or as ready as they ever will be.  Perhaps I risk offending some in this big, internet world by comparing hand-rearing birds to parenting children but I find the lessons interesting and it deepens my appreciation of the efforts and challenges of parenting.  They seem ready but I don’t know if we are.  I worry about everything, as you know.  And I know just how many dangers are out there.  When is it a good time for your children to leave home?  And can you protect them when they do?  Or do they not need your protection anymore?  There’s a certain amount of letting go, their lives are in their own hands now.  Or wings.

We need to check a few legal obligations first but we are looking for them to fledge in the next couple of days.  We need some good weather though and it looks as though our summer is already over, so we’ll have to see how that goes.

Then there’s Manky.  Manky is at least five days behind now.  He did a spectacular ‘falling with style’ from the back of the sofa all the way down to the ground this morning, if it was just falling then he would have landed on the sofa seats.  He is feeding himself more, especially when it comes to gorging himself on melon and he hopped into the tub of mealworms this evening to pick one up but he wasn’t quite sure what to do with it after that.  His feathers are still a disaster, which is probably the reason why he hasn’t got any further.  It’s hard to know whether he’s just slow or at the limits of his progress.  There are a lot of questions but no easy answers.  Time, time will tell.


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