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Inspiring and Supporting Photographers of Australian Birds

Common Blackbird

Common Blackbird (Image ID 43523)
Photographed byMichael Hamel-Green on Sun 22nd Nov, 2020 and uploaded on Mon 23rd Nov, 2020 .
Resolution1001x1400
Viewed998
ID43523
CommentWe enjoy a symbiotic relationship with our resident garden Common Blackbirds. They wake us in the morning with their mellifluous stream of song, entertain us with their lively aerial antics, and methodically till our soil in search of grubs with flicks of their beak from side to side. For their part, they much enjoy feasting on our bountiful mulberry tree, strawberry ground cover, and blueberry bushes, long before we can even taste a ripe berry. They also greatly enjoy taking daily showers under our kettle fountain, as seen in this photo. It so happens that this very same female blackbird one week before had been taking a similar shower when it was suddenly spooked by an incoming local Raven (“Nevermore! Nevermore!”). The blackbird took off straight towards me at eye height. The problem was that I was inside the house looking out of our large back window, which has become a kind of permanent domestic hide from which I observe the passing parade of bird life, binoculars and camera at the ready. I had only recently obsessively cleaned the windows of all grime to ensure the best possible conditions for photographic lucidity. With a sickening thud, the blackbird hit the window head-on and fell stunned onto our back verandah. It stayed there motionless but with eyes open. Horrified I called our local wildlife rescue vet about what I should do. She said it was most certainly suffering a bad headache and I should put it in a warm box in dark surroundings and it would probably recover from its concussion, something, as an erstwhile migraine sufferer, made much sense to me. By the time I found a box, however, the blackbird had recovered sufficiently to take itself to a shaded area at the back of the garden, where it remained very still, so I left it there. Several hours later, it had recovered enough to disappear and was sighted the next day taking its daily shower as normal, and even beginning on some nest-building. So not a matter of ‘Nevermore’ but all’s well that ends well. It was then I checked from outside about what must have fooled the blackbird into its kamikaze dive. I saw that what she thought she was flying into was the perfect reflection of our sunlit mulberry tree in the window I had so obsessively cleaned. Mortified, I set about festooning the window with shiny glass baubles and colourful ribbons to avoid further avian confusion. I asked our young wildlife rescue vet whether she thought this would be adequate, and she was very complimentary. “Awesome”, she said. You know you are of a well-cured vintage when what you call exceptionally good is what a younger person calls ‘awesome’ and what a young indigenous person calls ‘deadly’. Cleanliness may be next to godliness but in this case it led to deadliness, and not in the indigenous sense. The problem of birds, particularly migratory birds, dying in huge numbers as a result of collisions with windows, especially at night, is, of course, one of several major threats to many bird species. Talking of declines in migratory birds travelling north-south in the Americas, Bridget Stutchbery (Silence of the Songbirds, 2007) writes: “Especially on foggy nights and nights with low cloud cover, when they cannot see the real stars, birds stream towards the city lights and circle amongst the buildings and streets, disoriented and exhausted. Before long the birds fall like rain. Many hit windows in a frantic but confused effort to escape the strange and hostile environment that is totally lacking in food” (p.144).
EquipmentNikon Z7 with Nikon 300mm PF f/4 telephoto
ISO 1250
1/1250th f5.6
LocationKendall St, Coburg, Victoria
Keywordsfemale, adult, behaviour/display
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