Oh my. Spring.

 

I’ve spent my birding hours by and large obsessed with the sweet Bluebirds. And no wonder–they are treasured friends with whom I have shared the immense joy of two successful nests and the heartbreak of so much else: abandoned nests, overnight attacks, snake annihilation. And so I’ve been tickled this spring to have another birdhouse family to watch. It’s a precious Chickadee couple who’ve taken up residence in a newly placed nestbox placed in perfect view of my dining table bay window. How they dart about, those Chickadees, making my heart sing.

So much so, in fact, I’ve hardly mentioned the front porch nest identified by my cousin, Meg, who knows about such things. She’s a Phoebe, Meg said, when I complained that it was probably a sparrow who would do nothing more than make a mess and attract snakes.

(Still, we’d kept the porch light off and have tried to respect her privacy.)

Until this afternoon, that is, when I made my bird rounds.

First I visited the Chickadee who was hunched down on the nest and didn’t flinch when I opened the viewing hatch.

 

mama chick
Don’t you love her?

 

The bluebird eggs looked fine, but Mama Blue was no where around. This concerns me, I have to say, as she’s abandoned the early nest so many times. (She knows best, I realize. But still.)

 

blues

 

And then I cajoled my husband into bringing the big ladder to the front porch where I might get my first good peek at the other nest.

You could of knocked me over with a feather, so to speak.

 

tucked in close behind the front porch lantern

 

A whole pack of precious baby birds right there at my front door.

 

how many are there?

 

and they're hungry!

 

There they were, tucked in behind one of the lanterns that flanks our front door. I can hardly imagine how she built that nest, much less successfully incubated them!

There’s lots of Phoebe feeding to come. And lots of growing to be done by a whole peck of babies in a tiny, tiny space. There’s also a great risk of nest attack, this I know.

So I will keep my fingers crossed, this time for them all–Phoebes, Bluebirds and Chickadees alike.

Oh, Spring. Oh, my. Spring!

 

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Day 3: (Happy) Drama

There’s been much discussion around my house about the need (or not) to provide mealworms for the bluebirds and their babies. You will recall that’s something I’ve never done, amateur that I am at the entire bird-nesting thing. In fact, the birdhouse I bought on a whim turned out to be the wrong kind of birdhouse altogether—a decoration, for heaven’s sake—except that this Mama bluebird went right on in and built a little nest and laid five perfect blue eggs and is now doing her best, along with her faithful mate, to keep them all nourished, safe and alive.

And then along came Onyx, the blacksnake who shares the shrubbery bed with foo foo, the little brown rabbit. (Oh my.) And then that ol’ mean hawk who keeps dive-bombing our house and who we now believe attacked a nest of Morning Doves up on the roof. (There were feathers everywhere.) As if that weren’t ENOUGH, then there was that threat of intense severe weather, rain and hail and wild whipping winds and possible tornadoes and YOU CAN JUST IMAGINE HOW I SPENT TWO FULL DAYS WORRIED ABOUT THAT. Should I try to move the lightweight birdhouse which is simply sitting on top of a lightweight metal table on our downstairs open-air porch? Should I try to anchor the birdhouse with a brick in the underneath opening? Should I move the entire thing????

Wouldn't you be worried?
See?

 

Thankfully, the storms never materialized. And while I haven’t seen the snake in three or four days, I did see sweet foo foo just last night, foo foo the brown bunny who is not the slightest bit skiddish about me or my camera.

 

foofoo
foo foo, the world’s friendliest bunny

 

I did spend some time down in the studio looking out the big window, hoping hoping hoping for a bluebird sighting. My heart longed for a little reassurance, just a glimpse of Mama or Papa coming or going, proof without intrusion that things are going okay for those babies.

It wasn’t long before she gave me the incredible gift of this confirmation.

 

mamaworm-1

 

mamaworm-2

 

mamaworm-3

mamaworm-4
Wow. Oh wow.

 

It took me a minute to catch my breath. Then I did a little dance in my studio, happy to have the birds nest, happy the babies have made it to Day 3, happy to be reminded there is nothing on earth more powerful—or beautiful—than a mother’s love.

 

 

Panic. Day 2.

I wish you could have been here when it happened, this most crazy of occurrences. I was standing in the kitchen chopping dill when I turned to open the refrigerator door. In the middle of that movement I caught an impossible glimpse of a good-size feather falling just outside the big screen porch. And then some small downy feathers, feathers that attached briefly to the screen and then, blown by the wind, lifted off again to continue their slow descent to the brick patio below, the site just in front of the bluebird nest.

(How is it even possible that I was right there, and that I turned to see those feathers, right at that very moment? Ordinarily I would have found the whole thing miraculous, a message to me from God and the universe. But considering all the animal kingdom drama of late, and my nerves, “miracle” is not the thought that came to mind.)

I ran for my shoes and down the stairs toward that nest, terrified at what I would find.

Through the big window, the birdhouse appeared undisturbed. And so for the second day in a row, I held my breath and opened the door to step outside. Right there in front of me was this.

two-feathers

I couldn’t see the babies, as the nest is tucked into the dark cavity of the decorative birdhouse. But the Mama did not come flying out (as she typically does when I come near the nest). My heart started to beat faster.

I walked into the yard.

one-feather

Another and another and another. I gathered them all.

collection

Could they be bluebird feathers? I prayed not. I thought not, as large (and not blue) as they were. But still I was crazy with worry.

I walked over to the birdhouse and put my iPhone to the opening. I snapped three or four shots with the flash on.

When I looked at the camera roll, I rejoiced!

mama-day

There was Mama, safe and sound. Hooray!

Surely that means the babies are fine. Right?

Right.

And what about all those feathers?

I walked around the yard looking for clues. I noticed two morning doves sitting uncharacteristically on the pitched roof of our house. I wonder if they have a nest up there, and if, perhaps, the hawk paid it a visit. It makes me very sad.

Nevertheless. This is Day 2 for our newborn bluebird chicks, and all in all,

All is well.

 

UPDATE!!! (or Day 27)

I’m freaking out about those bluebird eggs said my lifelong friend, Vickie, on the other end of the phone. Send me an update the moment you get home.

We both knew the danger that lurked, what with the snake and the hawk and the precarious location of the (unintended) nest. And so I headed straight down those stairs, held my breath, and looked out the big studio window.

No signs of bluebird house disturbance. (Whew.) And curiously, no Mama bird peaking out from the opening.

I stepped out onto the patio and waited. Still no sign of Mama.

She must not be on the nest I thought. I’d better go in for a look while she’s gone.

Snap snap snap went the iPhone’s camera. Then I quickly made my way back inside.

What did I find when I looked at those photos?

A miracle.

two

A precious, heart-filling miracle.

 

30 Days of Grace III