Tuesday 28 December 2010

An Avian Drama

In the gardens surrounding the house where I live, I'm afraid a terrible avian drama has taken place.

I did not witness it, but found some suspicious traces this morning.

From my kitchen window, I saw clusters of dark spots in the middle of the otherwise virginal white blanket of snow covering the lawn in the garden next door. At a closer look, I realized those dark spots were bits of grey feathers. Lots and lots of them.

When I stepped outside to leave for work, I found more grey feathers strewn about on the heaps of snow underneath the cherry tree which so conveniently reaches into my other kitchen window when I open it.

Now, for the past week or so, I've been feeding the birds on my living room window sill. There are blackbirds and tits and, of course, magpies. Magpies are beautiful and elegant birds with a rather fearless and challenging attitude towards other birds. We also have a large population of doves (like probably every city), but I have not seen any on my window sill in a long time. There has been the occasional crow visiting, but mainly it is blackbirds feeding on what I put there for them.

The grey feathers looked very much like dove feathers to me.
Doves are, as far as I know, less aggressive than magpies and crows.
In the summer, I often observe crows attacking a lone buzzard; they usually gang in on the buzzard, not actually touching him (or her), but flying so close and diving at the larger bird that the buzzard eventually gives up on the idea of hunting in that particular spot.

But do crows or magpies attack doves?
I have no doubt that they could easily kill one, if they set out to do so.
But would they?
Did a dove try to get to the food on my window sill, and crows or magpies - or other doves? - chased it away?

There was no blood; it would have been clearly visible in the snow.
But someone certainly got attacked, and fled under the attack.


  1. Oh my! carnage in the snow.
    We don't have crows here, but do have their larger relatives, ravens. These huge, aggressive, birds frequently will 'gang up' on a stray hawk who wanders into their feeding area. Not to worry though, the hawk will always win out. Beautiful and fierce beyond all measure, the hawk endures to hunt another day.

  2. I like both crows and buzzards, but I don't like the idea of several individuals ganging in on just one opponent, therefore I morally support the buzzard in such encounters.
    Of course, when it comes to nature, there is no such thing as morals :-)