13 MAY 1916, Page 12


[To THE EDITOR OP THE " SPECTATOR."] Sri,—I have this morning watched a performance on the part of a wry- neck, which, as it is not recorded by Morris, or any other bird book in my possession, may perhaps be of sufficient interest to justify publica- tion. Last year a pair of these birds noted some neat boxes in my garden as likely building sites, and kept three of them vacant for some time ; I watched them eject bit by bit the entire nest of an unlucky blue tit, but to my disappointment—I never really sympathized with a house agent before—they departed elsewhither after about a week's hesitation. This spring they have reappeared and resumed the same tactics. A few days ago they made an attempt on a box occupied by a pair of nuthatches, but were defeated, either by the efforts of the owners, who, though alarmed, struck at the intruder repeatedly, or by the small size of the entrance, which had been reduced by a mud wall built after their fashion by the nuthatches. This morning my eye was caught by the sudden appearance from another box of a wryneck and a great tit, locked in unequal combat. The poor tit had no chance in the -Ten, and made off at once. The wryneck returned directly to the nest, which she started to throw out piecemeal, and three times at short intervals emerged with an egg in her beak, which she carried to an adjacent branch and ate, dropping the empty shell to the ground. An hour later the inside of the box was absolutely clean, from which it would seem that the tenancy, and not the eggs, was the prime object of the attack. At tho same time, the charge of egg-sucking is a serious one to bring against any bird, and it would be interesting to know if it can be substantiated against the whole species, or is only the bad habit of a stray individual—I am, Sir, &c., C. D. MOGGRIDGIA Culverlanda, Shedfield, limas, May 5th.