The mystery of decorative stones taken from a grave in Glenavy over recent weeks has finally been solved.
A parishioner was left bemused for some weeks after many of the black and white shiny stones placed on her husband’s grave at Chapel Hill, were going missing.
The woman attended the grave last week to find that there were only a handful of stones left.
At first, the mystery was blamed on thieves however, it was only on closer inspection, and after the widow had to re-order ten more bags from a supplier, that she was told it was common for birds to take them.
Theories as to why birds steal stones from graves range from birds believing they were eggs, male crows stealing the stones during nest-building season, and females being attracted to nests with a bit of colour in them. Other theories suggest birds hoard shiny objects to impress other ravens while some indicate that juvenile birds take them as they are deeply curious about all new things.
There are eight species of crows that breed in the UK, including the rook.
At first, some of the relatives attending the grave believed the stones had been taken away, to be cleaned.
“I was so proud of the grave,” said the parishioner. “We placed lovely black and white stones on it and they were very unusual.
“Until now they had never been touched. Then in the space of a just few days, maybe weeks all the white stones and some black stones have all disappeared.
“I could not believe it. I have now had to go and re-order more stones and they were not cheap. They are about £45 a bag and ten bags will probably not cover the double grave. So it is very expensive.”
The woman heard there were cases where stones were taken from the graves by birds.
“I went home and Googled stories about this and found it is common enough,” she said. “One person had even put CCTV cameras around the grave convinced that they were taken by thieves and found that birds descended onto the grave and made off with the stones.
“We all thought someone was stealing the stones because we couldn’t think of any other reason why they were disappearing,
“The grave has been here for almost two years and the stones were never touched now we have just a handful of stones left.
“It was so upsetting for me to see it because the grave was just so beautiful and probably one of the nicest graves in the graveyard and we were all very proud of it.
“I certainly will not be going back again until the new stones are put down.”