Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Empty nest

When the eggs hatched, I wondered if there were only three this year. (Two years ago, there were five babies.) A day or two later, I counted four little heads and from time to time this summer, I could count five open mouths. From my limited vantage point, it seemed that the last bird was crowded, smaller and being sat upon. (I'd be smaller too if my mom kept flying by and feeding a sibling who was sitting on me!)

This week, the birds appeared big, healthy, strong and ready to fly. (Though they'd perch on the very edge of that nest for a while before they'd go. It reminded me of my son learning to jump in the pool: "OK...one...two...three.....and...one...two...three...and...I'm ready now...one...two..."

As the birds left, one by one, my husband stood by the window watching them.
"Whoa! That bird almost took a dive but both parents came at him from different sides!"
Good parents.

Soon, only the smallest bird was left in the nest. Rather than a big, fluffy chest full of feathers, his was notably sunken in; while I'm no veterinarian, the little guy did not look too healthy. This was the guy who'd been left in the back of the nest, obviously. My husband kept noting the lonely, scrawny bird. "Can't I go give him a cracker? That little guy can't fly."

While I understood his sentiment, I could not see any way to deliver meals to the bird without touching him. We kept waiting for his parents (who still brought a few things to the siblings sitting on the porch) to tend to this guy.

Yesterday morning--as I was bloghopping, actually--I heard a great deal of chirping, squawking and general bird commotion out on the porch. I nodded, thinking that the last hold out had finally left the nest and the family was bound for the trees.

I did not discover the actual reason for all that commotion later, when I remembered to go out to water the flowers. The little bird was still lying directly below the nest.

I still had a few hours before the hubbie would return home and I knew the kids would check the porch before then. Besides, after his vigil the night before, I couldn't ask him to handle it.

I did tell him later and got his standard response: "it's the circle of life." Indeed. However, if a bird I'd barely seen inspires such a long post, we might do well to hold off on getting a real pet just a bit longer!

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