Day 12: the heart ache and heart joy of mothering

The bluebird parents and I have had a time together the past two summers doing our best to successfully nest, then fledge, our babies. It’s a saga you know if you are a regular reader of The Daily Grace, but for those are new or who drop by occasionally, it’s gone something like this.

SPRING 2014  I purchase a decorative birdfeeder as a decoration for a party. I place it on a small metal table on our walkout porch. Before I realize what’s happened, a sweet bluebird couple has made a nest and laid five perfect blue eggs!

 

so far, so good

 

I fret and fret and fret over that nest and sure enough, five babies emerge.

While we’re on vacation, the unsecured decorative nest box is attacked and I find it on the ground, only three babies still alive. We get it set back up and the parents swoop in knowing just what to do.

 

twomouths

 

The remaining babies survive and eventually fledge!

 

baby2
Remember Harry?

 

NEST #1: (Mostly) Successful. (Yay!)

SUMMER 2014  I buy a new nest box, a real one, and mount it to a brick column just a few feet from the old one.

 

facedown

 

I feel good about its security in this location, but it is SO DANG HOT I don’t know how a Mama could survive in there, much less eggs or babies. Nevertheless the cute couple builds away. She lays four eggs, incubates them for five horrifically hot days, then flies away and abandons them.

I am heartbroken even though I know she knows best.

NEST #2: Fail.

SPRING 2015  THEY BUILD ANOTHER NEST (!) in the next box on the brick column. She lays five eggs.

 

nest

 

After several days, she abandons them.

Again, I am heartbroken. Is something wrong? Is there something I should do??? Reason prevails and I leave the nest and the eggs alone. The bluebirds return several days later and build a new nest ON TOP OF THE OLD NEST AND THE ABANDONED EGGS. (I later discover she has put a layer of feathers between the old eggs and the new nest. Don’t you love that?)

 

new nest
new nest

 

She lays four more eggs. I FRET AND FRET AND FRET and, as if by miracle, these hatch! We rejoice and obsess, obsess and rejoice. On Day 5 I come for my morning check-in and find three babies are missing and one is still in the nest, dead. WHAT HAPPENED IN THERE? I wonder.

The next day I see this.

 

closeup-snake

 

It turns out snakes have no trouble climbing brick columns. (Seriously?)

NEST #3: Fail.

I (immediately) go to the bird store and buy a metal pole, a snake buffer and a new birdhouse. Sweet Tim (immediately) gets it all set up out in the yard, far away from all brick columns, and while he works I sort of pray they will build again, but I sort of pray they won’t. Because by now it is

SUMMER 2015 and UNBEARABLY HOT AGAIN. In its new location the new birdhouse has no shade at all, and, even worse, is baked by the afternoon sun.

Undaunted, the bluebirds build another nest. Over the course of several scorching late-June days, she lays three eggs.

There is no way this can end well, I think.

And this time, neither she, nor I, will be able to get over it.

 

two

 

I do something crazy. I fashion some top and back shade for the nest box out of white styrofoam, attach it with bungee cords, then erect a giant golf umbrella over the top.

It is ridiculous!

I know this, and I do it anyway.

 

i am the crazy bird lady

 

Sixteen days later, which just happens to be the exact time during which most baby bluebirds fledge, I come home from work to find the nest box empty. I rejoice!

Then I worry.

Maybe a snake got to them. Or the hawks. Maybe they didn’t fledge at all!

More than a month goes by.

 

Just this week I’m standing at the big kitchen window when something catches my eye. It looks to be a bluebird, but it hangs on the side of a branch in a rather inexperienced manner. Could it be one of the babies?

 

IMG_7446

 

Another bluebird baby comes flying in and lands in the bird bath just below. Branch Bird joins in!

 

IMG_7461

 

Baby three arrives!

 

IMG_7473

 

They have the finest time in that water, those babies, splishing and splashing like they’ve never, ever had so much fun.

I have the finest time watching them!

 

IMG_7499

IMG_7502

 

IMG_7504 - Version 2

 

Then they fly away, back to the woods I suppose, where Mama and Daddy are watching and waiting to continue the lessons in flying, landing, hunting for food, eating.

(I have beamed like a proud Mama ever since.)

Nest 4: SUCCESS!!!

 

 

30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

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4 thoughts on “Day 12: the heart ache and heart joy of mothering

  1. Cathy,
    I continue to enjoy these stories. We have a bird feeder on our deck. At first I was worried our cat, Scout, might prey on the birds feeding there but, as GRACE would have it, she must think she is too old to mess with the birds feeding. However, she apparently does NOT think she is too old to go after the squirrels who might prey on the birds’ food there. Scout stands guard over that feeder. NO SQUIRRELS ALLOWED! Ain’t grace grand — in whatever form we find it?

  2. Oh Cathy, I have followed every word about this determined family Blue. I know the pride. Mine lay with once starved squirrel String Bean and her Beanie baby.

    You inspired me to get 2 wooden bluebird houses shaped like churches, easy to clean. Bought non toxic, made in USA safe blue paint. My winter project will be to paint them and anchor outdoors.

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