8 April – Turf wars

Not everyone plays nice during nesting season –
turf wars abound, and for very good reason…
when territory is scarce, birds can’t afford to play fair,
especially when migrants return, filling the fast-warming air.
The viburnum is thick with sparrows, screaming and sparring it out,
each one making it clear they’re in charge beyond any doubt.
Two blackbirds take it further to swiftly settle the score,
clashing in mid flight with fierce interlocking claws.
Who will win the garden? The stakes are high; both need to win.
Time is fast ticking on, there’s a great pressure to begin
establishing a patch in which to raise this year’s young –
if you cede your zone, you’ve failed before you’ve even begun.
The fight is over quickly and only one male remains
to serenade his lady with rousing romantic refrains
while making it clear to rivals, “this patch is undoubtedly taken”
(in case anyone else dares to attempt an impromptu break in).
The ground is clear now so his mate can gather, build and line,
ready to rear another generation to dominate the skies.

8 April - Turf wars