It was a gloomy discovery the other day when I found a crow-sucked egg out on the moss. I’ve been working extremely hard to catch up with the black offenders, and I had thought that I was making progress. I’ve had a good number of crows through the traps over the past fortnight, and I’m now mainly reduced to catching wandering juveniles on the open hill – a good sign that there are no active territories in the area.
I caught sight of the egg from a few yards away, and the tone of the shell made me wonder if it was a snipe’s. This wouldn’t have been a major setback since snipe nest in huge abundance on the hill, but it would at least have been an indication that there were still predatory crows in the area. As it happened, it turned out to be a pheasant’s egg, at which point I breathed a sigh of relief.
Predated pheasant eggs are almost meaningless at this time of year, and this discovery says more about pheasants than it does about crows. Some of the daffy, idiotic hen pheasants from the shoot down the glen just skitter out their eggs anywhere they choose, and they often don’t even seem to make nests. If an idle crow happens on one of these spilt eggs, the theft is more the pheasant’s fault than anything else. Real wild birds (and real wild pheasants) which take proper care of their nests are usually able to keep their interests secure unless they are being specifically hunted by territorial crows, and this egg is no indication that there is an egg-hunter on the hill – just a passing opportunist.
As if to confirm this theory, I found an undamaged pheasant’s egg lying out in the track nearby last night. I cracked it and found the white all runny and stale, implying that it has lain out in the open for some time. There was a tread, but no sign of any incubation, and I flatter myself with the thought that blackgame or curlew eggs will be far safer than these carelessly dispersed little morsels.