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A vicious fight for a prime nesting space

My Tawny Box in a tree above the bridle path, opposite my home, was occupied by Jackdaws last year. The pair who filled it to the brim with twigs, sticks, leaves, sheep wool…. and anything else they could find… have not really strayed far from the box, even out of breeding season. All through Autumn and winter, they kept returning to check up on it. From about February, they have visited the box every day. I cleaned it all out at the beginning of the year and they did seem somewhat surprised at coming back and finding it empty again!

I had hoped the Tawnies might choose it and I had placed some rough bark chipping and shaving s in the base. The jackdaws proceeded to remove all of those! I also added a lighting system to this box to improve the daytime and night footage.

Over the last few days, I recorded some interesting footage. Sadly, I had not set the audio up on this box so there is not sound to these videos. My boxes run through video servers and each server runs 4 cameras. I can only choose for one of the 4 cameras to have audio and it had been on a different cam. I have now set this cam up with sound.

The first video I am going to share with you is the Tawny who visited.

Despite hearing them around here regularly, they have only visited my boxes occasionally. I was delighted to see this individual in and clearly calling its mate….

On looking through the footage last night though, I witnessed a far more scary encounter that had happened mid morning on Sunday. A Jackdaw intruder (the one with white feathers) made the mistake of coming into the nest box. I have not seen this individual before. It is very distinctive with a smattering of white feathers on both its wings and its body. My pair responded highly aggressively, not just trying to get this individual out of the box, but actively holding it inside the box so they could attack it.

The footage is rather grisly and certainly not for the faint-hearted. They actively held the bird down with their claws whilst continually aiming vicious pecks at the eyes. The pair worked together, although at one point the intruder’s mate also came in. This attack went on for ten minutes and I actually thought they were going to kill this poor intruder. Toward the end it almost escaped but, unable to see clearly, it simply could not see where to escape. The noise must have been horrific and I am almost glad I did not have the audio set up as it is disturbing enough without!

Serious Jackdaw fight_00001

I did think about not posting this video, but this behaviour (however disturbing) is as much part of their daily lives and is just as interesting. These birds have to battle on a daily basis to maintain a prime nesting site and this pair, being the strongest, will ensure they breed.

If the intruder survived, it will have been lucky to escape with sight in both eyes. It is highly recognisable, so I will be watching out for it. In the meantime, my visitors have been around the box all day, proud of their achievements and ensuring that no other birds challenge their abode!

I wonder how often such fights occur and how many individuals actually succumb to such attacks.


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