I must say that, after the Fiscal Shrike (Lanius collaris) killed my Cape Robin-chat's babies to feed her brood of four, I was totally pissed off with her and swore no more interaction with that mean little bird.
Mean little bird!
But as the days passed and I saw how the parents were struggling to keep up with four hungry little mouths, I broke down and started offering little pieces of minced meat on the feeding table again. The parents were SO thankful and immediately took little pieces, endlessly flying between the four hungry youngsters, who shrieked and flapped their wings in anticipation.
Since they hatched in late September (about 4 weeks ago), they have grown in leaps and bounds and it wasn't long before they would be waiting at the feeding table for me, knowing what's coming. For a while they still preferred Mommy to pick up the pieces and feed them, which she obligingly did but about a week and a half ago I observed her behaviour changing as she with-held the food from them, swallowing it herself and then turning on the shrieking little one, chasing it into the next tree. Mommy was saying, "It's time to leave home, children!"
For a day or two they still tried coaxing Mommy into feeding them, flapping and screeching, to no avail, and soon they were eagerly hopping onto the feeding table as soon as I appeared, hardly giving me a chance to put anything down! I would sometimes have three of them sitting there, helping themselves as fast as I could supply.
I now have them taking little bits of mince straight from my fingers, albeit a quick grab, and retreating to the nearest branch to enjoy it. What a wonderful experience that is! and all the while staring me straight in the eye with absolute trust in their little eyes.
During the day, as soon as I appear in the garden, all four would fly towards me, sitting close-by, intently watching my every move just in case a snack is forth-coming. I only feed them twice a day, early in the morning and again late-afternoon. If I'm in the garden and I don't see them anywhere, I just have to whistle and they're there like a flash.
These little birds are totally fearless, secure in the knowledge of their "raptor" status. When the Thrush or Robin see an insect on the ground and go to retrieve it, they will immediately land at the same spot, and as young as they are, immediately send the Thrush and Robin scurrying away in a hurry.
Little Raptor in the making!
Looking for all the world like a small hawk!
"I'm going to be fierce, can you see?"
These little darlings have crept deep into my heart and will really miss them when they leave (if they leave!), but already this morning only three came to feed. The eldest one has always been a bit more independent, always coming to get food after the fact of the matter and I think it might already have left for greener pastures. C'est la vie little one!