Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bird Stories

A robin's nest hidden within the climbing hydrangea

Birds have been on my mind the past few days. Go figure. Over the weekend while I was biding my time with the flu on the sofa, I watched a mama and daddy Blue Jay going back and forth to a nest they had made in the crook of a hickory tree that's in our back yard. I couldn't believe their activity. It was amazing to me. I realized they were feeding nestlings because you could actually watch them carrying worms as they flew to the nest. I didn't notice any activity yesterday which left me a little bit concerned. After all, I had witnessed an American Crow hanging out in the woods just beneath the nest the day before. After closer inspection, I found the nest was in disarray and the nestlings were gone. According to my bird book, American Crows feed on other birds' eggs and nestlings. It's always a sad event for us bird lovers. I suspect this sad little couple will find another place and try again.

However, see that beautiful picture up top? That was taken last spring. It was hidden quite well in the climbing hydrangea which grows up a trellis on our back patio. I snuck in and took a couple of pictures while she was away. Unfortunately, the next day the nest was empty. This time, instead of being invaded by a crow, this nest was invaded by a Blue Jay. Sometimes what goes around, comes around.

Incredibly, the robin is back again this year and has just started building another nest in the same climbing hydrangea...only on the opposite side of the trellis. We watched her building the nest today while we sat outside and had lunch. I am amazed at their ability to make such a beautiful dwelling place with just straw, grass, twigs and mud. Did you notice how perfectly round their nests are? In the meantime, we'll keep an eye on invaders as best we can. I'm just hoping I can sit at my dining room table and not get dive-bombed!

Here we have another bird nest. This one was built just outside my office window. To keep her from flying away every time someone walked into the room, we taped a big piece of cardboard across the window, but left a little slit where we could watch without her knowing. It was a very cool experience for all of us. It made for great Show and Tell whenever company arrived. Can you guess what bird these beautiful eggs belong to?

One perfectly speckled camouflaged egg

There were four eggs in all...two of them had just hatched when I took this picture

And here are two nestlings...look at their little pin feathers

These are Cardinals! I was astonished to watch the mother and father taking turns watching the nest and feeding them. They worked together as a team. The day I saw a crow perched on the big Hemlock tree right next to the nest, I ran outside and scared it off. Yes, I was the hero for the day and these little nestlings survived. When it was time to leave the nest, the father Cardinal was in the Hemlock while the mother Cardinal was on a branch in the tree just a foot or so away from the nest. She slowly coaxed the nestlings to the side of the nest, then to the branch, then to the Hemlock where Daddy was waiting!

What a lesson for all human parents. That is precisely why both of our children are going to camp this year. It will be their first time away from home (Caleb for two weeks and Rachel for one week) and it will be our first time at home without them. I am certain we will have a much harder time at it than they will! I look at this as the branch near the nest test for Mama. After all, college isn't too far off and I don't know where that will take them. Although they have asked if they can take college from know, home college. Uh, no.

Here's my last bird picture. Promise! This, my friends, is a Turkey Vulture. I'm sorry I couldn't get a better picture, but this is across the street at our neighbor's house. I've never seen them do this before...there were five males roosting on the roof while a female was perched in a tree in the woods. This big ugly bird, on the peak of the roof, moved out to the edge, turned around, and spread his wings, all six feet of them, to the sun. Did he ever shimmer! I'm sure Miss Lady Turkey Vulture thought he was quite handsome! Doesn't he look like a hood ornament? Or should I say a house ornament?!

May all your bird stories be pleasant ones!

P.S. I will get back to the job story soon!


  1. Wow! Just loved this! Are you sure you don't have a contract with National Geographic? If not, you should!!

  2. That is so cool!! We don't see too many nests around our house...though we do have lots of birds.