“Sometimes,” says Winnie the Pooh, “the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
This delightful quote by AA Milne goes a long way in explaining what transpired at Eden on the Bay on Tuesday afternoon.
The smallest things, in this case, were Cape Starling chicks who were temporarily separated from their parents.
Workers closed up two entrances that lead to a roof where two pairs of Cape Starlings decided to build their homes.
Needless to say, the parents were furious when they returned from foraging for their young and could not gain access.
According to one bystander the frantic birds tried to attack the workers who were tasked with closing off the entrances.
The birds were not the only ones to be affected by the loud cries of the chicks trapped inside.
Before the day was out a number of phone calls were made to a flock of people and someone had to drive 25 km from Athlone to Bloubergstrand to check on the birds.
One of the tenants, Paul Moore, was most upset.
He phoned centre management, the body corporate, TygerBurger and the SPCA.
“I am generally not an over-sensitive person, but I am someone who lives by principles, and this is shocking. We live in a world where death and destruction is rife, and if I can do something for those who cannot speak up, then I will,” exclaims Moore.
“I commend him for pointing out the wrong that they (the workers) were about to do,” says estate manager of Eden on the Bay, Kelvin King.
“But I cannot help believing that if Paul had handled the situation in a more calm and pragmatic way, with the right persons, we would have stopped this ourselves without all the unnecessary unpleasantness.”
Everyone, but one anonymous landscaper and the workers, seemed to agree that the chicks should be saved.
The landscaper apparently recommended that the nests be “flushed out”.
The workers, who were supposed to remove the nests before they closed the entrances with wire, apparently found it a little too difficult to remove one of the nests and closed them up regardless.
Moore’s complaints led to King ordering the workers to open one of the entrances again, which will now stay open until the young have left the nest on their own accord.
King says the reason the holes had to be closed up in the first place was due to a number of complaints from owners and tenants about the noise, the mess and in two instances an infestation of bird lice in the apartments, caused by the Starlings.
The one nest that was indeed removed were left briefly next to a bakkie that would have been used to transport the chicks, but the driver, Siyabonga Koti, said that the “mommy and daddy” were there one moment, and the next the two young chicks, as well as the parents, were nowhere to be seen.
Koti’s assumption that the mom and dad picked up the young and took them somewhere safe, has been debunked by an ornithologist.
What precisely happened will remain a mystery for now.
The Cape of Good Hope SPCA confirmed that an inspector was sent to the scene after Moore’s complaints, and ensured that one of the entrances was left open for the young to leave when they are ready.
Spokesperson Wanika Davids says that the inspector found that the mesh wire had already been removed.
“We have subsequently offered our assistance to the body corporate, from a humane point of view, when commencement of blocking up the holes continues. We understand the situation and the need to block up the ceiling, but need to ensure that the birds are humanely removed,” she concluded.