Domestic Economy of Blackbirds


Two Blackbirds having built their nest in full view of my bedroom window, I have been much interested in watching the process of feeding their young, &c. The cock bird is the principal forager, and the food generally brought are worms. My object in writing is to draw attention to one feature which may be unknown to most of your readers as relates to the disposal of the young birds' droppings. If left in the nest, it would become filthy, if thrown aside the accumulation would lead to detection, and I believe the general impression is that the old birds carry the soil away; but on watching them closely I never saw the droppings carried away but on one occasion, and that by the hen; in every other instance after being fed, the young birds in turn lift up their tails and the droppings are taken by the old bird and actually swallowed. On the 15th July the young birds being fully fledged, were literally washed put of their nest by the downpour of rain on that day, but, with a little care, they all survived. On the 22nd the hen again returned to her nest, and she is now sitting closely on three eggs, and I hope to get the next brood photographed, I enclose my card and address, and should any readers of NATURE desire to witness what I have described, I shall be very glad to afford them an opportunity.

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W., E. Domestic Economy of Blackbirds. Nature 12, 272 (1875).

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