Knowing that birds fight over resources in winter, what I found yesterday wasn’t entirely a surprise. Going through the side gate of the garden I was visiting, I noticed clumps of black feathers scattered about and then came upon a rather grisly sight – two dead blackbirds (Turdus merula) laid side by side and they had obviously died fighting. They were lying close enough to be touching each other, both were bloodied and one had feathers in its beak and claws. One was certainly an adult male, shown by the black feathers and yellow beak, whilst the other may have been a female or a younger male that had not yet developed a yellow beak. It wasn’t very easy to tell as both birds were frozen solid and covered in frost.
I tried to imagine what might have happened for both birds to end up dead and yet be lying side by side. Except for on their bodies, there was no blood to be seen. Did they die of exhaustion, did they both die of their injuries at the same time, or could they have somehow knocked each other unconscious and then died of cold? Without thawing them out and investigating more closely, which I was not inclined to do, there was no way to tell.