26 MARCH 1927, Page 18


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] SI R,---Some may talk of " Brave Swans and Timid Gulls ' (Spectator, March 12th), but what of the plucky, persistent, persevering jackdaw ? If ever there was an example of " dogged as does it," here it is.

' For many years a pair of these birds—presumably the same pair—has been accustomed to build in one or other of the writers' chimneys which, fortunately, are exceptionally tall. Nothing would persuade these birds that their building operations were. a nuisance to the household. It mattered not that the bucketfuls of twigs were removed frOnahe grate below ; nor that in despair of times they were even set on fire. More twigs, feathers, hair, old rope, dirty paper and road sweepings of all descriptions would come tumbling down again in the early hours of next morning. A mirror held underneath would reveal the- two sleek heads .in conference at the top; wondering no • doubt how long it would take to fill up that twenty to thirty- feet shaft. • • •

The battle in 1926 lasted- about three weeks-and-then Mr: and. Mrs. Jackdaw won it ! A stouter, and to them kindlier, twig than the rest stuck half_way down, and upon that found- ation the castle-building went merrily on. It was thought that they had earned the right to it then, and they were allowed to bring up their family without further molestation. But the day of reckoning had to come: At the end of the season Mr, 0 Sweep " was requisitioned to clear the chimney of its deadly

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obstruction and a sack was nearly filled with the same rul)i,ish as before. Treasury notes or diamond rings were not included. Certainly the jackdaws are spartatiParenti in a way. " Rough and ready ":is their motto, and they do not-believe in feather -bids for their offspring. , They thrive nevertheless, and this year,_ undaunted by all their past experiences, have returned t6- the attack once more, even trying a bribe' in the shape of half a good sized square of buttered toast ! It is easy to understand now how Elijah was fed by the ravens.

Building materials are somewhat scarce this, year owing to the fact that an old, dead ash tree near by, denuded of all its smaller twigs last year, can no longer supply their demand. Twigs are brought from somewhere however, and the battle goes on as before. Who will win yet remains to be seen. Undoubtedly if they were left severely alone they would fill that chimney from grate to pot before they would give up what to many of us mere humans would seem to be an impososible