It's My Breakfast!
I wake up some time after 7:00 in the mornings to take an early morning pill with the intention of going straight back to sleep; as chance would have it, there was no water on the bedside table this morning. The kitchen tap, as regular followers might remember, overlooks the local nature reserve know as “The Lawn” and there was local nature on it. I had time to fetch a camera with the right lens on and fire off about 50 shots in 3 minutes and have another five just watching. While the young starling had my sympathy, there was nothing I could have done to improve its lot, neither would it have been right to try; the sparrow hawk has just as much of a struggle to survive as does any other life form.
Starlings have a life expectancy of about 2 years after they have survived their first winter and each pair will produce (on average) two clutches of 5 eggs each year under normal conditions: that’s a total of 20 eggs per pair - though it could be much more. The task of each pair is to produce two (and only two) offspring in their life time: three, and there will be a population explosion; two, and their line will become extinct. Simple arithmetic means that 9 out of every 10 eggs/chicks do not survive their first winter to breed in their second year. When Herbert Spenser drew on his knowledge of economics to coin the phrase “Survival of the fittest,” he understood that only the very fittest survived rather than merely the "better than average". I am reminded of the philosophical wag who pointed out that he didn’t need to be able to run faster than the tiger to avoid being eaten by it, he just needed to be able to run faster than the person next to him.