RAB MCNEIL: My gal, the blackbird, had a mishap


Rab's friendly female blackbird had a bit of an accident.
Rab’s friendly female blackbird had a bit of an accident.

Birds have been flying into the big sitting-room window again. I’m not sure what the story is.

Either they see the reflection and think it’s a territorial rival, or they believe the space beyond the glass – i.e. my hoose – is something they can just fly into, though I’ve no idea why they’d want to do that. Watch a bit of telly perhaps.

My gal, the friendly blackbird

There’ve been two instances recently. In one, a small bird died from the collision. Always breaks my heart, as it feels like it’s my fault somehow. I gave the little creature a decent burial in the garden.

The other featured the friendly female blackbird I told you about. Pretty sure it was her. Young blackbirds are brown like females but, as events transpired, I’m confident it was my gal.

When first I heard the whump, I thought, ‘Oh no, not again’, and went out to investigate.

There she was, knocked out

I found her lying comatose on the gravel under the window at the front of the house. I was unsure if she was still alive but as I approached she tried and failed to flutter off in panic.

Wild birds never completely trust us. You can’t blame them. I don’t trust us either.

After the first panic, she conked out again, so I took her gently in my hand, upon which she became fully awake and tried to get free.

It was important to move her, however, as there are many cats in the vicinity.

As I carried her through the back garden, she kinda settled down and rather than look up at me – the ogre – she gazed ahead, obviously wondering where we were going.

We were going to a peculiar blue metal box, about three or four feet high, the remnant, believe it or not, of an outdoor swimming pool that a previous owner had installed. One of very few in the Highlands!

I put my gal down on top of that. Immediately, she fluttered away into nearby foliage, where I left her to recover.

Next morning, she came over…

Next morning, she came down really close to me at the feeder – never even touched the food; they don’t need freebies so much at this time of year – and fluffed herself up fully as she looked at me. That fluffing is a sign of pleasure.

She was showing gratitude or at least acknowledging a friend. You may scoff, but they do exhibit feeling, as when they show their young to you proudly, or a worm or bug that they’ve caught: “Look what I got!”

But I must do something about this window problem. I did actually try one solution involving white stripes that you chalk down the window. But, clearly, that hadn’t worked.

Now, about the windows

My next plan involves net curtains but, at the time of going to press, I haven’t figured out how to put these up. Used to be able to do this sort of thing intuitively in my teens.

Now, I’m at the stage where I need to watch an instructional YouTube video before brushing my teeth.

Maybe I’ll just hold the curtains up myself all the time, with an occasional break to eat or use the household’s facilities. It’ll limit my social activities but be worth it to avoid more avian collisions.

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Lifestyle – The Courier Dundee