BIRDS have been in the news this week. The appearance of a rare blue-throated robin living among the reed beds at the Loch of Strathbeg nature reserve in Aberdeenshire has brought twitchers from all over Britain to catch a glimpse of its brilliantly-coloured breast. Whether its presence is due to global warming or simply an errant wind which carried it away from its migratory flight path from Scandanavia to the Mediterranean does not greatly matter. It is evidence of the qualities of endurance and determination that birds possess Another example of these qualities came this week from the unlikely environment of Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, New York City. Two red-tailed hawks had built a nest high on an apartment building there but the residents found their squat unacceptable. The owners of Manhattan apartment blocks insist on vetting potential new owners to ensure that they will “fit in” but the hawks, named Pale Male and Lola, had apparently overlooked this requirement. Furthermore, it seemed likely that the pair intended to raise some young whose squawking in the exclusive area might have been annoying to late sleepers. So the building's janitors were told to remove the nest and its contents, which they did. Predictably, bird lovers heard of this and mounted a picket line outside the apartment building in protest, chanting “Bring back the nest!” The residents' committee called a meeting and decided that any noise from the birds would be preferable to the chanting fom the protestors. Pale Mate and Lola, who had been keeping a watch on the site, noticed that it was again undisturbed and proceeded to establish occupancy again, bringing in new supplies of twigs, old rags, and dead mice. A nice story for Christmas week, don't you think?


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