When my family and I moved into our current house, in April of last year, we were pleasantly surprised by all of the wildlife in the back garden. At the time, the house next door was empty and a family of foxes has taken refuge in the mass of tangled bushes at the end of their garden, and if you looked over the fence at the right time of day, you’d catch them laying on the grass, soaking up the sunshine.

We also have lots of different types of birds coming in and out of the garden, and were thrilled to find that we had a family of blue tits, nesting in the nest box on the garage. Husband and I noticed that the two adult birds became particularly industrious at one point, in and out all day with bits of bedding  and food, and after a minute of standing near the nest box and listening carefully, we deduced that there were baby birds inside! We spent the whole of spring watching the new parents fly in and out, and waiting patiently for a glimpse of one of the babies.

Unfortunately, that day came too soon. One day, my eagle-eyed husband noticed a tiny movement in the lawn. One of the birds was out of the box, but instead of the joyful, momentous occasion this should have been, his parents were perched high on the fences, chirping in a distressed fashion, while their baby hopped around, unable to fly. We agonised over what to do, as we have a magpie who spends every day sat on the chimney of the house that back on to ours, and we knew it would only be a matter of time before his beady eyes spied the baby.

After looking at various websites, we found out that the whole ‘parents rejecting a baby bird who has been touched by a human’ is a myth, so Husband went out and put baby bird back into the birdhouse. We thought that this would be the end of it, until a couple of hours later when we noticed that he was back on the lawn. At this point, we decided not to interfere, his parents must be teaching him to fly and it wasn’t our place to interrupt that process, so we left him, and made sure Chuck stayed off of the lawn.

All was going well, until Husband saw the magpie swoop down, pluck baby bird from the lawn, and fly off, leaving his parents squawking in the garden. We were absolutely mortified, and vowed to rid the garden of any magpies or other predatory creatures if we saw them. We looked into ways to deter them from the garden, and even considered an airgun, until we decided that is SO not us, we couldn’t willingly harm another animal, especially when it’s just behaving naturally and in total accordance with the circle of life. Yes, we love our baby blue tits, but magpies and foxes have babies too, and they need feeding.

Not long after the incident, we noticed that we couldn’t hear any cheeping from the nest box anymore, and upon further inspection realised that the whole family had, pardon the pun, flown the nest. We were so sad that they’d gone, but couldn’t blame them for doing so.

And then, last week, I saw this:

Our nest box is full once more! I don’t know if there are eggs in there already, but it’s been a hive of activity, a relay of twigs and leaves, so I’m guessing Ma Bird is getting ready to lay. I hope this little family is a lot more successful that the last, and I’ll be doing anything I can to help keep them safe. And I know that Sausage, Husband and I will love watching our new lodgers, so if anyone knows any good magpie deterrents, I’d be most grateful!