Monday, 3 May 2010

Red in tooth and claw (and bone)

Alfred Lord Tennyson used 'red in tooth and claw' to describe nature in 1850. Two episodes in my garden confirm that this is a fair point. The first involves a blackbird's nest. The parent birds have been running themselves ragged feeding the young these last few days.  A cacophony of alarm calls brought me to the window and in seconds it was from this...

to this......

via this.....

The crow, having taken the chick to the roof ridge and torn it apart, hopped off and just left it there.

Last week I had been watching a blue tit bringing nest material into a nestbox.  Hour after hour every few minutes, in and out of the hole.  I watched it come out and fly directly over a low hedge into a neighbour's garden.  Seconds later, the flash of a sparrowhawk over the hedge and a silent nest box.  The box is re-occupied now - maybe with a smarter, faster and more vigilant blue tit.

Meanwhile, the red bone in the title still remains a mystery.


  1. We had a similar experience with a sparrowhawk preying on blue tits nesting in our roof, but at least it ate the prey unlike that crow.

  2. It is sad nature, but they breed so many because so many die.

  3. Blue tits are so vulnerable. We had a similar experience with a nest box being raided by a Jay. The noise was unbelievable as we looked out to see it with four chicks in it's beak. Reminded me of Hitchcock!!

  4. Hi Rob. Yes it's odd that the crow left most of the bird - though I did notice it wiping its bill on the tv aerial so it probably ate a small but juicy morsel.

  5. You're right of course Kerry - it's all part of the great jigsaw (unless we are talking cats of course)and the crow is only making its own living - as the blue tit does to the caterpillar.

  6. Hi Steve. That's an very interesting thing to have witnessed. Usually all I catch of jays is their rear end disappearing into the trees. I'm puzzled as to how the bird got the chicks out of the nest box though...