bliss and calamity
Mother's Day is my favorite day of the year. These darling girls always create an inventive celebration that outdoes the one before. From the days when they were little girls and their dad stage-managed their wobbly breakfast trays and handmade cards, every single one has been fantastic. This year too. They gave me a lovely day. Home-cooked brunch (and they are amazing cooks!), nature walk, a late lunch out with my mom and a little downtime just being together at home. It was a perfect day!
There was a beautiful new bird guide and a handmade book.
We love our backyard birds and spend a great deal of time recording their visits, their habits and this spring have especially enjoyed watching the nest of robins outside the front window. More on that in a minute.
Erin's handmade book is so dear.
She profiled the nesting habits of our particular bird residents. I've now gone back to read more carefully. But it was the page about the House Wren ....
Yesterday, I was newly home from errands and had just checked on the robins through the window. You have to stand to see the nest and look just right through the tiny curtain opening. We've tried to keep the curtain shut so as not to disturb the parents or nestlings. They looked a little bigger, more feathers, more active. I sat down to respond to a friend's instagram about his robin's nest full of eggs in Chicago. I said he'd get to see our little nest this weekend when he visits. And then suddenly, there was a wild, noisy commotion outside the window. I stood up to see a huge crow inside the nest! And a frantic mother robin doing battle to protect her little ones. The front door is steps away and I ran out to chase the crow away, but of course, the damage was done. One baby robin was on the ground beneath the nest pitifully fluttering through its last moments. The remaining three were falling from the cedar branches to the ground like little pine cones. I watched them scurry for cover.
I think it was the heartbreaking panic of the mother robin that did me in. She flew from each scrambling nestling to the other, each headed in a different direction, as if she could change their path. She went back and forth to the dead one, hopping from side to side and calling to it. I went inside and cried.
I get it that this happens and I know to let nature take its course. On the other hand, I have rescued animals in distress many, many times in my life. Birds, squirrels, a trapped fawn, an enormous turtle, kittens dropped in the road. Even so, I really didn't think I should do anything here. Too many to save.
But I couldn't leave it alone. I looked again and saw one last little robin that wasn't going anywhere. Just sitting and calling out its distress, the mother robin helplessly barking at it.
I got the ladder. And a plastic bag. Caught the little thing very gently, climbed the ladder thinking I would just put it back in the nest. Did I mention it was raining a little? I had the bird in one hand and was feeling it freak out. The folly of all this was finally dawning on me and the ladder wasn't feeling very steady. Too late. It tipped. I grabbed a branch, but fell anyway. I will say that I did not crush the little bird. When I collected myself, I released him and let's just say he got the heck out of there as fast as his little self could manage.
Me? I was kicked in the mouth, kicked hard by the ladder foot. Cuts and scrapes, but it's lucky I didn't lose any teeth or worse. So dumb and stupidly dangerous. For a baby robin (and its mother). Really?
This morning I opened the new birding book and no kidding, this is the random page I opened to.
Erin explained again that robins have a very low chance of surviving their first year.
Maggie came over after work and put the mangled ladder back in the shed for me.
Mo (the firefighter) scolded me for my foolishness and offered to come home from work if it would make me feel better.
Andy suggested I post a sign at the empty nest. Beware - crows and lunatics.
I closed the curtains and got out the ice packs, worked on perspective and vows for the future. Seriously though, it was that mother robin. Last night I saw a robin in the yard, foraging for food. I wondered if it was our robin. Could have been. I'll never know.
Too bad those errands didn't take an hour longer. I would have missed the whole thing.
I never would have known.
Edit- Feeling much better now. I asked Erin if I could have jinxed the nest with my promise to show it to a friend. She said yes, for sure the crow was on Instagram and read that comment, got his GPS and came right over. But, no matter what, here's a huge thank you for the kind comments! Each one has given me great comfort!