Nature Abhors a Vacuum

It’s just over a month since I reported the death of a Robin in our garden. It was a sad loss but also an acceptable one as the killer was a Sparrowhawk. At the time that Robin was one of a pair that were prospecting nesting sites in my garden and in those belonging to close neighbours. Although they were looking to set up their nest, they were also having to defend their territory at the junction of my garden’s eastern corner against another Robin territory to the south and east. I saw lots of displays between the birds – posing to show off as much of their orange breasts as possible to intimidate the neighbours. Sometimes these disputes become actual war zones and it is not unknown for one Robin to kill another. Fortunately, it never got that far – just lots of posturing. Then the Sparrowhawk struck… 😱

I went out in the garden during the dusk period that night and found two Robins flitting around in my Pyracantha bush. They were totally spooked – eye’s out on stalks and I was not bothering them at all. Hell, I could have been a tree for all the attention they were paying me! Then they went their separate ways and I was left to myself. And that was the pattern for the next few days – no Robins to be seen in the garden.

Slowly, things changed. I saw a solo Robin drifting in to the feeder and promptly diving back out again. This bird was from the south and east territory. The boldness grew over the following week and the visits became regular. By the middle of last week, when I went to replenish the feeders, a Robin was picking up seed from the ground below and not in the least bit bothered by my presence – I noted that it was collecting seed rather than feeding so that means the partner was sitting on the nest👍

My original pair disappeared after one of them was killed and the other pair have taken the opportunity to annex the feeding area originally outside of their territory. Nature abhors a vacuum and new living opportunities spring from the passing of previous incumbents. In memoriam for our lost family here is a photo of one of the ill-fated pair of Robins taken back in January…


…I don’t know if this individual was the Sparrowhawk’s victim but, in a way both members of the pair were victims – one killed and the other forced to find a new home.


  1. Such a beautiful little bird. I’m enjoying watching a Bulbul nest with two little mouths being alternatively fed by mama and then papa. Their dedication amazes me. I enjoy the birds in my garden, too, Martin. Almost weekly we watch a hawk swoop through the back feeder area and sometimes there is a casualty. I cringe when I hear the hawk coming! I am rooting for your robins, too! 🙂

    1. Great to hear your Bulbuls are raising young Debra👍 I might see the young Robins when they leave the nest, wherever that is. I’m wondering if the Great Tits will use the nest box for the 4th year in a row or if the loss of our tree will deter them. Hawks are not common at low level where I am – I’ve only seen Sparrowhawks twice in my garden. I think the bigger threat to small birds are Jays and Magpies😉

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