I was delighted, when we moved into our new house, to see that a pair of blackbirds were apparently nesting in the loquat tree on the far side of the garden. It's a large tree, towering above the nearby magnolia and apple, and it's leafy and dark all year round. An excellent spot to raise blackbird chicks, I thought. (Sorry, no pix. My camera is still non compos mentis.)
Blackbirds are an introduced species - brought over by the British, along with the chaffinch, song thrush, mallard and two types of sparrow, in the 19th century to make the place feel more homelike. It works. Every time I see those little critters in the garden, I feel a little more at home.
So I was none too happy when Susan found the body by the garden gate.
She didn't look closely at it, but I went out to do the dirty work. Close up, the plumage no longer looks black - it's a very dark brown, like burnt coffee. A couple of loose feathers fluttered in the air, but the bird was undoubtedly dead. Ants crawled across it frantically, as if trying to revive it, but I didn't give much for their chances. I could see no sign of violence, but then I wasn't in the mood for a detailed examination and autopsy; I suspected, and still suspect, one of the local cat community.
Unfortunately there's little chance of getting any of them to squeal.
Using a stick, I rolled the tiny corpse onto a newspaper supplement, wrapped it up, and consigned the whole thing to the rubbish bin. It's being emptied roundabout now. I haven't seen our blackbird since, so I'm pretty sure that was him.
This morning I saw a female blackbird building what appeared to be a new nest, in another, smaller tree, just outside our living-room window. If that turns out to be a good spot, we'll have a grand view of the family growing up. But I'll still miss that first bird who welcomed me to my new home.