Baby blackbirds

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Hebrides-pride
Hebrides-pride's picture

Came across this old post too. I think there are some valid points on each side but unfortunately for some I am also of the opinion we should not dictate which species live or which are eradicated, just as I agree species should never be artificially introduced anywhere. I trust nature can take care of itself and we humans continue to destroy. In Britain we have the same issue with grey squirrels and red squirrels. The grey squirrel was introduced and is on course to exterminate the red squirrel population. I will help red squirrels as much as I can, but I would never harm a grey squirrel to achieve this, just as I would never kill a cat for harming a bird. I am however appalled to read that some people on here deliberately destroy nests and eggs. You wouldn't get away with that in the UK, and it is illegal. Here you are not even allowed to disturb nesting birds, and for good cause too. I think it's very cruel, please think before you do this. Blackbirds did not invade Australia; they were merely introduced. You can find solutions to ensure both species survive. I have to do this every day, when the dreaded starlings bully my blackbirds away. Starlings are considered to be pests here, yet their numbers are declining and they are protected. So I try to feed both, routinely. It works. Thanks Buddy for opening your heart to these little blackbirds. We have a moral duty to help, create and preserve - not to destroy. 

Woko
Woko's picture

Thanks for your contribution to this relatively old but still relevant debate, Hebrides-pride.

Rest assured, I have thought long & hard about my approach to trying to ensure the survival of several species of birds such as the Bassian's Thrush in the Mt Lofty Ranges of South Australia where so many bird species are now endangered, in part because of the introduction of exotic species such as the Common Blackbird. I've also read copiously & had many discussions on the critical importance of conserving & restoring our endangered species in order to help achieve a healthy biodiversity on which we as a species depend. One of the strategies for achieving this is natural vegetation conservation & restoration but an important & integral part of the picture is eradication of species which are threats to our biodiversity because they compete with native species here in the Mt Lofty Ranges.

While the Common Blackbird is lauded for its melodious song it is, nevertheless, a threat to the existence of several endangered bird species here & so I have come down on the side of eradicating, as humanely as possible, this species from the area in which I live. Doing this by nest & speedy nestling destruction is the most humane method I'm aware of. Clearly, this doesn't meet with your approval but I trust that conserving native birds on the brink of extinction does.

Adding to the argument for the eradication of the Common Blackbird from the Mt Lofty Ranges, at least, is that part of its diet is berries. In their wisdom many Australians plant exotic species such as Cotoneaster which has become invasive of natural bushland in some places because Common Blackbirds have spread their seeds. This reduces the quality of our bushland & natural habitat which is increasingly degraded in many places by human activities.

I note that Starlings are considered a pest in the UK. However, they are, I understand, a native species. That they should have become a pest may have to do with human interference in the natural environment. Certainly in Australia there are places where human destruction of bushland understorey has produced open woodlands which favour species such as the Noisy Miner which is now regarded by many as a pest. To take the Noisy Miner off the unofficial pest list requires restoration of the natural structure of the bushland rather than eradication of their nests & nestlings.

But the basic issue, perhaps, is whether we focus on the individual birds & their nests or whether we adopt the broader perspective of species & biodivesity preservation & restoration. I certainly favour the latter partly because I believe the existence of future generations depends on a healthy biodiversity.

Hebrides-pride
Hebrides-pride's picture

I admit I agree with a lot of what you are saying, Woko. I am not disagreeing I find it very sad that species are on the brink of extinction, but to me two wrongs don't make a right. When blackbirds come back to their nests to find their eggs are gone it can be very distressing. I have witnessed blackbirds mourning and it is heartbreaking. The eggs had been destroyed by magpies. I am very sorry for the Bassian thrush though. What other options are available? I have turned my country garden into a sanctuary for birds, I have grown bushes and trees, there is plenty rowan for the birds. I provide worms, apples and berries when the ground is frozen in winter. I am not familiar with your climate and environment, but could the answer lie in providing more nature for your thrushes? We have various thrushes here too, mainly the mistle thrush, an aggressive but beautiful specie I am delighted to help provide for in winter. I will be honest though Woko, I accept nature as it is, it does hurt me to see beautiful animals disappear, but I also cannot bring myself to getting involved in a way which will harm one specie to conserve another.

I have a very 'live and let live' approach and will only get involved if it causes no harm to another specie. The true culprits are those selfish humans who introduce exotic birds. I am also against putting birds in cages, or keeping them in any environment which is not their natural habitat. There are wild parrots in London; how irresponsible of their previous '' owners '' or those who decided to bring them to our shores. I am also completely against zoos and circuses..my ultimate dream is to see those abolished, as well as slaughterhouses and anything which is contrary to nature. We don't own nature, we shouldn't dictate nature. If we just left nature be, I'm sure there would be more thrushes and blackbirds - in their rightful habitats! Bassian thrushes in Australia, and Blackbirds in Great Britain. I hope you do spare a thought for our beautiful blackbirds just as I would if I ever came across an Australian specie, although highly unlikely. Greetings from Scotland. 

Woko
Woko's picture

Ah, Hebrides-pride, I think we might be singing on the same wave length - or at least with one foot each on the same page, if you'll pardon my mangled metaphors.  

I think that being aware of our feelings when we engage in conservation activities is important because our feelings so often determine our actions & behaviour. It seems you would have conflicting feelings about eradicating a Blackbird nest & nestlings in the Mt Lofty Ranges (if you were here)  - sad at the thought of destroying birds & preventing their breeding but also sad that unless you eradicate the nest & nestlings you may well be contributing to the extinction of the Bassian Thrush &, maybe, some other species which partially occupy the ecological niche which the Blackbird occupies. It seems to me it then comes down to a question of priorities & also having to come to terms with whatever feelings exercising those priorities might engender. As I indicated in #53, for me the priority is species & long term biodiversity preservation & restoration. I have no problems in accepting some sad feelings about Blackbird (or other feral species) eradication because my feelings of satisfaction contributing to species preservation far outweigh those sad feelings. Of course, not everyone is in that position & I suspect that one reason for this is that most people don't see  yet the long term consequences of reduced biodiversity. Dare I say it, long term thinking is not modern humanity's strong point.

Your thought about the idea of providing "more nature" for the thrushes is commendable as is your own planting of bird habitat. Habitat restoration is something in which Ms Woko & I have been engaged for nearly 30 years on our property. But integrated with our revegetation & bush care is the eradication of feral animals (rabbits, foxes - carefully because they predate rabbits - , cats, Starlings, European Finches, Rock Doves) & weeds too numerous to mention. This approach is, I believe, necessary if we are to achieve anything remotely like the natural environment which once existed in our locality - as well as preserving original remnants for their intrinsic value if nothing esle. 

I note that there are good folk in Scotland who are involved in what, in my opinion, is the wonderful activity of rewilding areas. However, it is sad, indeed, that it has come to the point where animals which no longer exist in Scotland are now being imported from elsewhere. Far better that we should be providing conditions in which remaining species can multiply & reoccupy areas from which they were eradicated long ago. So preservation of those remaining species is both critical but also jeopardised by the presence of non-native species, especially those which occupy similar ecological niches.

It's so sad to read that parrots inhabit London thanks to the thoughtless behaviour of people. Yes, thoughtless people have a lot to answer for but while we're waiting for an answer I'm not sure that I want to be living & letting live while native species are being marched to their doom. That thought is what I find so, so sad.

mmerlin2711
mmerlin2711's picture

<p>BRAVO..buddy blue. Perhaps a little more polite than I would have been. I have a female blackbird that has lived within my yard for 15 years, reared many chicks , &amp;,cost me a small fortune in mealworms. I have just completed a shelter for her as she is being beaten by a young hen that would like to take her territory. I&#39;m not trying to save the world just an old friend who needs a hand. Scott forcing his opinion on others is not an acceptable method of getting your point across. Most unattractive..

Woko
Woko's picture

Roughly where is your yard, mmerlin?

Hebrides-pride
Hebrides-pride's picture

Don't even think about it Woko! :P Why don't you fight against those who have brought blackbirds to your shores instead of harming beautiful defenseless animals? I'm sure you would want us to treat Bassian Thrushes with love and respect if they ever ended up here in Scotland. If your thoughts were to harm mmerlin's feathered companion, my intolerance for human beings has increased that little bit more.. luckily there aren't many people on my island. In fact, there are visibly far more animals than humans.. an absolute joy to live with. With pollution almost non-existent, the breeze from the North Sea, our moody weather and our beautiful hills and forests I feel very blessed to share it with other animals; regardless of their specie (and yes that includes humans too). If you ever plan a holiday in Great Britain, my advice is, don't attempt to come near a bird's nest. Besides a fine, you would face some very angry locals who are otherwise friendly and laid back. Apart from that, I'd like to thank you and your wife for providing homes for birds. 

Woko
Woko's picture

Rest assured, Hebrides-pride, I've made numerous representations to relevant authorities about the need to keep feral animals & plants out of Australia.

Rest assured, too, that I would support any efforts by conservationists to rid Scotland of any Bassian Thrushes that might come your way. As far as I know, this species is not native to Scotland. But by all means, treat our Bassian Thrushes here with all the love & respect you can spare as they certainly need it given all the pressures they're under from habitat clearance, cat predation & competition from exotic species. 

The reason I asked mmerlin for his location is that I wasn't sure if he was writing from inside or outside Australia. Keeping what seems to be an almost pet Blackbird within the Blackbird's natural range would perhaps be ecologically acceptable as no harm would come to other species should it escape. Again, be assured I have no plans for an invasion of mmerlin's backyard.

Hebrides-pride
Hebrides-pride's picture

Ok Woko, I trust you ;-) I'm sure mmerlin won't let blackbird out if it means blackbird will harm the Bassian Thrushes. Blackbirds make great pets anyway in my personal opinion, as long as they get time to fly around a room in the house. Cat owners should be ashamed of themselves for letting their cats wander out unsupervised. All the unncessary damage caused to nature is just heartbreaking. It makes my blood boil. If ever I see a cat on my land, I take it right back to its owner. They just have no place in nature. But again, they didn't ask to be bred and born, so humans are the culprits. And Woko I wouldn't be surprised if there were stray Bassian Thrushes somewhere in the UK. Exotic birds are smuggled in; a crying shame to kidnap beautiful animals out of their natural habitat. So you rest assured too that if I ever saw one I would dial the RSPB to find it a suitable home; as they, like the parrots of London, would be vulnerable in the wild. 

Woko
Woko's picture

Hey there Hebrides-pride. If you do happen to catch a Bassian Thrush will you email it to me as I'm trying to establish this speicies on my property?

By the way, I'm not sure that supervising wandering cats is going to make much difference to their impact on wildlife. (Although, from what I've seen a couple of times on Australian TV, the Scottish Wildcat has a place in Scotland's wildlife parade). Eradication or, at least, desexing, would perhaps be a much more positive move - at least until cat owners commit to controlling their cats in cat runs. Even then there's always the risk of escapees getting into the environment.

Is there a prowildlife culture in Scotland or does the procat culture dominate?

Also, I'm not sure that controlling humans will have much effect on the behaviour of their pets. It's more acceptable to control the pets, I suggest. And probably more effective, too, until we can change the anti-wildlife culture that is dominant, at least in Australia.

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