I Missed It

Back in April, when I cleaned out all my bird nest boxes for the new year, I was saddened to discover one was filled with mummified corpses of baby tree swallows. What had killed their parents? It was upsetting to realize that last summer I passed this nest box every day while infants were quietly starving to death.

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I hate these little tragedies. However, knowing how common they are in nature gives me a small (very small) measure of philosophical resignation to my own troubles.

In late May, a pair of bluebirds arrived and moved in.

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I watched them as they built their nest, incubated the eggs, and then wore themselves out feeding a squeaking gaggle of demanding babies. (My camera is dead so these photos are taken with Lucy’s hand-me-down iPhone.) Here is the male resting from his labors.

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And here is the female.

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I have lightened this photo taken on a dark day so you can see Mama keeping watch while Papa feeds the children.

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I drove in early one morning and was alarmed to find a raven sitting on the happy home.

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Although I’m always pleased to see ravens, they are predators. I fervently hoped he had not been munching on my bluebird babies. Surely his beak was too big and the gate just a little too far away to give him a boost to the nest box hole.

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I was greatly relieved to look down from the hayloft later and glimpse Papa back on the job.

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Every day as I mowed the fields and mucked the barn, I watched the comings and goings of the dedicated parents. Last weekend a pair of tree swallows cruised by and caused a ruckus, the bluebirds telling them clearly and firmly, no, this house is occupied.

On Friday afternoon, however, I suddenly realized all was quiet. There were no more busy flights in and out of the box. The bluebirds were gone. The babies had fledged and flown the nest.

And I missed it. Rats!

The barnyard feels a little lonelier.

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2 Responses to I Missed It

  1. ned says:

    Sad that the little birds had to starve. Nature can be cruel. Glad the Bluebirds made it. It’s always fun to watch little ones leave the nest.

  2. Elaine Murphy says:

    At the beach we have quite a few birdhouses and all are occupied in the spring. When the baby birds are learning to fly it looks like flight school! What a joy to watch…

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