Territorial twitchings

A fully-grown caddow can easily overcome and kill a chough or a magpie, but such contests are extremely rare in nature. Laplace cites only one instance (near Bruges, in 1911), and even then, experts doubt that it was really a caddow, but more likely a jackdaw, or perhaps even a burl-chough.

Of course, Laplace was known to be ‘a bit of a drinker’, and he had a whiskey nose that glowed at night, sending flocks of birds to panicked flight. He wouldn’t know a caddow from a burl-chough if they presented their business cards at the door. But I digress.

The jackdaw (Jackus dawus) is very territorial, and will defend its genetic investment to the death. In contrast, the burl-chough (Chuffus burlus) is not so tough and won’t engage in physical stough, though it has been known to mock the caddow’s tail in a good-humoured way. According to Pilbeam’s Birds of the Copse & Glade, the element “burl” in the name derives from the adjective “burly”, but this is juvenile and ridiculous.

You see, like Laplace, Pilbeam struggled for years with alcohol and drug abuse, and was often heard imitating the call of the woodspurl in the undergrowth at Balmoral. Allegations of pederasty against him were unproven at the time of his death (though there’s no smoke without fire). But I digress.

Bird fanciers are a race apart, united by a inexhaustible passion for ruffling feathers.


 

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