Two bodies lay dead in the courtyard. The family had left them for me to identify on my return from London. They were clearly thrushes and, on closer inspection, blackbirds, although their brown-flecked chests resembled a song thrush more than the sleek black or brown of an adult blackbird. I’ve watched the parents first choose a nest in thick ivy climbing up the wall and then bring food to the hatchlings. It seemed such a waste after all that effort.

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The bodies were full of fluffy down, but with just enough strength in their wing feathers to launch them on their fateful solo flight over the wall and into the courtyard. Blackbird fledglings are the responsibility of the male, who takes them on excursions and introduces them to new foods, as the female prepares for the next brood. The male had led them into the courtyard, where there was no escape over the high walls.

Sometimes, I wonder that we have any songbirds at all. Only about a third of blackbird nests produce fledged young and then the feeble youngsters become the target of corvids, sparrowhawks, cats and the weather. I hope that the brown female isn’t let down by her black companion when the next brood hatches.

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