Of Blackbirds and Currawongs

Evil Currawong

The thing is, I should love Currawongs. I should be on their side. They’re big black birds, ever so distantly related to ravens — an ever so distant relation which definitely shows in their general mien — with bright yellow eyes and a penchant for falling with clumsy grace through the branches of trees. They are also native to Australia, and a protected species at that. I am a Friend of the Crows. I should lurve Currawongs.

But if you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll remember that a pair of Blackbirds have taken up residence above one of our courtyard doors. Right opposite my office where I sit for much of the day. I watched Mother Blackbird and Father Blackbird build their nest from scratch, with twigs and mud and bits of leaf and feather, over the course of just two days. I’ve watched Mother Blackbird sit on her nest for the past week, nestling down snug over her eggs, leaving only on brief forays for food and water.  I felt a bit dirty towards Father Blackbird for not sharing the load, until I spotted him doing perimeter duty on the roof, perching on the TV aerial for better vantage, and seeing off Noisy Miners who came too close.

In short, I’ve bonded with these damn Blackbirds. It doesn’t matter that they are an imported species. Or that my friend Elaine tells me they are considered a pest and a blight on the Australian environment. Or that we won’t be able to use the BBQ in our courtyard until the brood has fledged and flown. My heart cares not for such quibbles and refuses to listen to reason. They are my blackbirds.

Mother Blackbird
Mother Blackbird

All of which goes to explains why I was most distressed to see a Currawong checking out the nest at lunchtime on Sunday. Mother Blackbird stared her down, and Father Blackbird performed aerial manoeuvres, but Currawongs are four times their size and have huge pointed beaks, and so the Blackbirds quickly deemed discretion to be the better part of valour and fled. I stood up by my glass door and waved my arms, and the Currawong promptly fled. After a while, Mother Blackbird came back, very cautiously, with much sounding out of the area before settling back into her nest.

Repeat three times. Currawong arrives, Mother Blackbird flees, Kirstyn shouts and claps her hands like a Mad Thing. Currawong retreats, Mother Blackbird returns, Kirstyn is stupidly proud.

The Currawong made no appearance yesterday and I thought perhaps I’d scared her away for good, but — alas — just in the last half hour she has come back for another attempt at egg-stealing. I did the arm-waving thing to shoo her away and I suspect the recently-fled Mother Black will be back shortly. As ridiculous as it sounds, it’s making me very anxious. I don’t want to leave the office to make myself lunch, which means I am taking my self-appointed guard duty far too seriously. I am also nervous about plans to see a movie on Saturday afternoon, because I won’t be here to protect the Family Blackbirds from the Evil Currawong (who, of course, is not evil at all but merely behaving according to her nature, as so she should).

It doesn’t matter that the Currawong is a native bird and that she probably has nestlings of her own to feed. These are my Blackbirds, damn it, and I was looking forward to seeing chicks hatch and fledge and take to wing. Sadly, it doesn’t appear that this will happen. I can’t be here all the time and Currawongs, it seems, are persistent. And, yes, the rational, reasonable, environmentally-conscious part of me will simply sigh and shrug and say, that’s nature for you, when I inevitably find the nest abandoned and Currawong bellies presumably filled.

But my stupid heart will weep. Because they are my Blackbirds.



6 thoughts on “Of Blackbirds and Currawongs

  1. That was absolutely beautiful tragic story 🙂 Thanks for sharing. When I first moved in my new house – outside my office room I observed for months, through storms and scorching weather the black and white sparrow kind of birds that wag their behinds, nest some eggs until the babies hatched. – Loved it. It was like the real David Attenborough stuff.

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