The Exile Files

Raging Against the Outrageous. Laughter and Insanity Abound.

You Don’t Have to be Big to be Brave

Posted by Exile on June 12, 2007

I am fascinated by birds. Always have been. They are the freest of creatures. They migrate thousands of miles under their own steam, can live in the harshest conditions and are not bound to the earth as we are. Every year I look forward to spring and put up boxes for them to nest in and I follow them from the confines of my living room. A good thick hedge round the unspoiled back of our garden ( well, I call it a garden!) provides nesting space for blackbirds and thrushes and the like. Our patch gets busy in the spring!

Our washing machine lives in the cellar. I occasionally use it without my wife knowing. She is protective of her beloved washer and she doesn’t like me fiddling with it. There is a window in the cellar, at ground level, it looks out over the front of our garden, where the bushes are. On one of my washing machine capers the other day, I saw a baby blackbird desperately trying to get in through the glass. Obviously this youngster has no experience of glass and was banging his beak relentlessly against it. Maybe it was the reflection of the garden that fascinated him. I don’t know. But I decided to help him. Off to the garden then, and catch me a baby blackbird. My intention was to put him up in one of the bushes, out of harms way.

As I got to him, the hen bird, who had been in the bushes all along, saw me approach her youngster. She immediately dropped to the ground, chirping madly and trailing a wing as if it was broken, she tried to distract me away from her offspring. I turned to face her and then she did something totally unexpected. She flew directly up at my head. This caused me to do the natural thing. I closed my eyes, turned my head away from the sharp beak coming at me and threw my hands up in front of my face to protect myself. I felt the displaced air from her wings as she “peep-peeped” her way past my head.

Had I been a creature looking for a feathery meal, this manouevre may have cost her her life.

Looking down after this attack, I could see the youngster scurrying into the bushes beside me. The hen bird, on the other hand, had now turned and was coming back for another aerial assault on my head. After two sorties, I decided to leave. I was obviously causing both creatures some stress and I was obviously not wanted in that particular part of the garden. Back then, to the washing machine, harried all the way to the door by a chirping mad blackbird that was dive bombing me continuously and mumbling about bloody crazy blackbirds not knowing what was good for them and I was only trying to be nice and whose garden is it anyway…?

Hers, apparently. Blackbirds are notoriously territorial.

Down in the cellar again, I looked out of the window. There she was. Triumphant, she stared at me from the ground beneath the bushes with her youngster in tow. Mother and child reunited and the big ugly animal banished back into his stone nest, where he belongs, as far as she is concerned.

I couldn’t help but admire her courage. Would you attack something so much larger than you are? Think about it. She weighs probably no more than 100 grams. I weigh 100 Kilograms. She stands five inches high. I am six feet tall, in my socks.

But, despite the physical differences, she made me defend myself, saved her youngster and, as far as she knows, drove me off. That is indeed bravery. I find it absolutely admirable. She has my undying respect. I will not be interfering with her family again.

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