Peter Pearson's picture

Chalkys story

'Chalky' is the nickname given to a male Blackbird visitor to our garden so named because of a white tail feather.
His story is interesting in that during the winter of 2009/10 he appeared in the garden with a damaged foot. Blood was left on the ground where we first saw him. A vet friend said he had probably suffered frost bite. The foot eventually healed but was curled up fist like.
His condition was poor, but we reserved an area for him in the garden, under a red robin shrub that he was using as a roost. We put out fruit, sunflower hearts and boiled rice where he could eat undisturbed.
He pulled through that winter and despite his still quite poor condition, mated and the pair had 3 broods that we were aware of. The offspring were brought into the garden to feed on his boiled rice and fruit that we continued to supply.
The winter 2010/11 was spent in the red robin sheltering from the harsh conditions his mate being the only bird his size and under allowed anywhere near his feeding area, Wood pigeons however were not tackled and stole some of his supplies.
The pair again had broods in 2010, but we were not sure how many.
This winter 2011/12 he hass so far had it easier, plenty of berries and fruit on trees and shrubs in surrounding gardens, so our services have not been called on quite as much. He is now in prime condition having improved enormously and he dominates the area driving off all territorial contenders.



Ray Turner's picture

What I nice story ...

... and a demonstration of how a little bit of effort can make a lot of difference. Two breeding years, let’s assume five broods of three fledglings that’s 15 birds added to the population that wouldn’t otherwise be here. OK the blackbird is not exactly endangered but I don’t care, a lovely success story.


Fenwickfield's picture


I always think that it is worth a try to help as they then have a chance to pull through I personally don't think it matters what type of bird it is rare or not,loved or not by some there lives all precious to me.I hope to hear of how your Blackbird does this year with breeding.I feed a female pheasant and have done for a few months now with I dodgy leg she sleeps behind the water butt and Quince in the back garden,she get birdseed and cooked rice.I wonder what is the life span for a Blackbird as you may have him for quite a few years.Thanks for sharing this as it has given me hope that there are some caring people out there.


Peter Pearson's picture

Thanks for your comments

We will keep you posted as to Chalkys progress. My wife and I have been pleased with him and watching his offspring and so its only a blackbird, but any life is precious. An interest in wildlife has been our life long hobby nothing deeply scientific but a love of natural history.
Good luck with your pheasant hope all goes well with her

chipoil's picture

Great story

It's great that you've managed to observe and record the bird's breeding behaviour over that length of time. I'd recommend the BTO's garden Birdwatch scheme, if you are interested in such things. It's made me take a much closer look at the behaviour of our regular garden visitors, plus you can add all your recordings online: It runs all year round. I've had several blackbirds this year constantly chasing each other around, competing for mates and territory. Last year a pair tried to nest twice, but the magpies drove them out, and probably had any eggs. Hoping that a pair settle and manage to raise a brood this year. Fingers crossed for your pair.

Peter Pearson's picture

Blackbird numbers

It was interesting to see that you had blackbirds chasing each other. At breakfast this morning, watching from our dining room we were surprised to see up to 8 chasing through the apple trees, with chalky at his wits end chasing them off. Surprising though was one, not Chalky, was seen to firstly take on a Magpie, driving it out of the garden then a pair of Collared Dove attempting to take up territory in a neighbours conifer.

Peter Pearson's picture

Update on Chalky

Poor Chalky has had a time of it recently. Woitth deep snow covering the frozen ground, he was quite reliant on the food we putout.
An invasion of Fieldfare and Redwing cleared the remaining fallen apples and berries in the gardens round about. To cap it all 10+ interloping Blackbirds took up residence. They soon found Chalky's food store and gave him problems trying to keep them at bay, as he cased one off another took its place. In the end he gave up, found a neighbour putting out bread and satisfied himself with that.
Now the frost and snow has gone the interlopers have left and he is back in his rightful place.
He has his partner with him still and no doubt they will soon have a busy time with this years brood, All being well.

Fenwickfield's picture


It's nice to know he is okay and hopefully he and his partner will start nesting soon.I have noticed that there more vocal at the moment.I bought a food called woodland crumble also known as robin mix,it has dried meal worms in it and the blackbirds love it.They sell it in some pet food stores.They are very territorial at the moment so it's good that he has should his ground and look forward to finding out if has any young this year.


Peter Pearson's picture


I'm afraid its bad news. He got through the winter ok, found a mate and set up a territory. His chosen song post was an apple tree in a neighbours garden to the rear of ours. He began singing and all seemed well, then I witnessed an incident that caused us a great deal of concern. Chalky was in his tree in full song when suddenly a contender for the territory came up from underneath and behind him knocking him off his perch, both birds tumbling, locked in combat, presumably to the ground, behind a six foot fence so that I couldnt see what happened. Despite diligent searches of the whole area around we have not been able to locate him.

jhn7's picture

Don't give up hope!

He might have been forced to give up his territory but maybe has found somewhere nearby to stake claims on. I do hope so and I hope you see him again.

Certificate in Contemporary Science (Open)

Fenwickfield's picture

Think your right

I would say Janet is right the strongest bird gets the best territory.I have noticed this with all types of birds so maybe he is just in a less desirable area now compared to what he was used too.


Aláine's picture

A brilliant 'tail'

That's fantastic to hear, others would have picked that bird up and taken it indoors. I supose that just goes to show it really is best to let nature take its course (with a little intervention :-) It's great to hear a nice sucess story!