Chicks congregate in bathroom

28.07.2020 - 15:55
Mynd: Pálína S. Sigurðardóttir / Aðsend
Young redwings took over a bathroom in the Vesturbær neighbourhood of Reykjavík after residents rescued them from cats eagerly waiting for them to drop from their nest. The human residents say the inconvenience of having no bathroom was worth it.

There were four chicks in the bathroom, but one gathered the confidence and flew away on Friday, just before the above video was shot. 

Pálína S. Sigurðardóttir and René Biasone say they have watched one baby redwing after another succumb to the neighbourhood cats in their garden, after falling from a nest in one of the trees. “When the chicks fall out of the nest, the parents make a special sound, like a gargle. We have come to recognise this sound and when we heard it yet again last Sunday, I went out into the garden,” Pálína explains. 

There, she saw a flightless chick attempting to run away from a cat. “The chick made it into a hedge, the cat followed it, but I caught the chick,” she says. “I know chicks need to be with their parents, be fed by them and learn from them, but I just couldn’t watch this anymore.” 

They put the chick in a makeshift nest in their bathroom and searched the internet for tips on how to take care of it. The chick enthusiastically ate cat food, sunflower seeds, and soaked raisins. 

Pálína and René monitored the nest outside their window for the next few days—trying to keep an eye out at all times of day, when possible. René was on “the chick shift”, as Pálína words it, when the redwing parents started making their alarm call once again. This time, René went to the rescue: “It was night time and one chick had fallen out of the nest. It was placed into the bathroom with the other one, and the same night two more were added as well.” 

The couple fed the birds with a syringe and they were near-continually hungry, according to Pálína. “They called out so loudly that their mother found them. She took a while working out how to get into the window, but now she’s coming in and out many times a day with worms and other sustenance.” 

Pálína explained that the chicks mostly congregated on the windowsill, where they seemed to have the best contact with their mother. “But when it’s not dinnertime, then they are practicing flying. They throw stuff down and fly all around the bathroom. It’s really fun to watch them.” 

The flying practice worked well, it seemed, as one chick flew out of the window and into independence on Friday, while the remaining three were all gone by the end of the weekend. 

Asked whether the birds had left their mark, Pálína admitted the bathroom needed extensive cleaning before returning to its regular use—but that it was worth it—even having to shower at the local swimming pool and use their neighbour’s toilet facilities. 

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Alexander Elliott
Project manager
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