Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring = Baby Birds

I have a screened porch on the back of my house that I simply adore. I have it set up like an outdoor room complete with wicker loveseats, coffee table and shelves. In good weather, I tend to live out there. As a matter of fact, I'm typing this from my porch with my coffee beside me.

A while back, I noticed a several inch hole in the screen and made a mental note to fix it. A few days later, there was a bird inside the porch so I told myself again that the upcoming weekend I needed to fix it. The bird made a reappearance several times over the course of the week, always with some sort of leaf or twig or bit of fuzz in her beak. When I was ready to fix the screen, it was then that I noticed the nest. That little bird had been using the hole as a access route to a safe place to build a home for her babies. I tried to get a closer look, but I didn't want to scare Mom, so I left the hole and the nest in place.

She came and went from her nest as she pleased, getting used to me being around and even Thing 1 and Thing 2. Then, I noticed her coming back and forth with worms and bugs in her beak. The babies had arrived. From a distance, I tried to peer into the nest to see the little miracles. I could hear them some. But I could only see there hungry selves when Mom appeared with a snack. It was cool to watch them. They worked poor Mom HARD!

When she built the nest, she had built it behind a small painting propped on a canvas. One day last week, she perched on the canvas and knocked it askew. On her next trip in, she perched again and knocked it off the shelf with a loud clatter. After that, I didn't see her again the rest of the morning. I came home at lunch, and didn't see her come and go either. After work I still didn't see her come in or go out, and I started to worry. The babies weren't chirping the way they had the night before. I could see them moving in the nest and it looked like they were in distress. I wondered how long it took baby birds to dehydrate or starve to death. I fretted. I texted my friend the Garden Geek. I knew NOT to disturb them, so I waited and watched. And finally, just before sundown, Mom came back. Phew!

The cycle of watching Mom bring food continued for another week. Then, yesterday I came home at lunch and stepped out on the porch to let Thing 1 and Thing 2 out to do their business. My porch was FULL of baby birds flying around! The babies had left the nest, but couldn't figure out how to get off the porch. Mom was flying in and out of the hole chirping at them to show them the way. To help them out, I opened both doors to the porch and watched and waited. Two of the four got out rather quickly. Then a third, but the last baby seemed to have a bit more trouble. Then all of a sudden he flew right towards me.

I moved out of the way and thought he had flown right past and out the door. But I hear him chirping behind me, I turned around and didn't see him. I still heard him. I turned again. More chirping, but I didn't see the baby. This repeated for a bit... until finally, I looked behind me and down. And there was that baby perched on my behind! Yes, a baby bird had used my butt as a landing pad and was clinging there resting! I did what any sane and rational person would do.... I ran out on the deck, dancing around saying "Get off MEEEEEEE!" --- fortunately I did NOT swat at the baby, but instead danced around until he took off!My neighbor who was out working her yard thought I'd lost my mind. I kind of had.

The birds came back a couple of times before I headed back to work. I left the screened doors propped open for them just in case. When I got home, the only sign of them was the nest on the shelf. The empty nest. It is just a bit lonely out here on the porch this morning without hardworking Mom and her always hungry babies, but I guess that's just part of the cycle.... Mom feeds and raises them, helps them get their start and then sends them out in the world. I'll be doing that myself in a few months. Sigh. Farewell, baby birds!

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