Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bye Bye Birdie

I have been witness to an amazing series of events, beginning with finding some eggs and ending with the new baby birds flying off into the world.  

It all began on March 31, 2012, when I noticed a female cardinal had built a nest and laid some eggs in my greenhouse.  I wrote a blog titled Squatter's Rights detailing the discovery.

On Saturday, April 7th, I came home to discover the eggs had hatched.  The two little hatchlings were pinkish-orange and appeared to look like eggs without shells.  I wondered if something had gone wrong.

On day 2, they didn't look like little shell-less eggs anymore, but if it's possible, they looked more pathetic. The momma bird tweeted and fussed at us, and my husband was convinced she was asking for help with her two deformed youngsters.  I must admit that I also wondered if these were normal little babies.

On day 3, it was clear they were getting some hair/feathers on their little pink bodies.  They looked a little less pathetic and I started to think they were probably going to be okay.

On day 4, I could see feathers and wings.  They were moving around a little more, but their large sightless eyes were a little unnerving.


By day 5, they were all wings and definitely growing fast.

On day 6, they looked at me for the first time.  Suddenly one of the babies jumped up thinking I was delivering a meal.  The effort must have been exhausting, because the little tyke immediately plunged back into the nest and went to sleep.



On Day 7, the babies were just chilling waiting for Dad to bring them something tasty.  Dad was right outside the window waiting for me to vamoose.


On Day 8, the babies were suddenly quite shy as they were becoming more in tune with their surroundings.  "I can see you," baby seems to say "but you can't see me."


By day 9, they had the "I'm invisible" routine down to a science.  If it wasn't for those fluffy feathers, they would almost look like nest material.

On day 10, I found an empty nest.  The babies were gone, but Mom and Dad were making a racket.  Something was wrong.

One of the babies was trapped in the greenhouse.  This was our concern from the beginning.  Mom and Dad came and went via a small window, but I wondered how uncoordinated first time flyers would manage to copy their parents exit routine.

The poor little baby was peeping very loudly.  She repeatedly banged into the wall trying to get out while Mom and Dad squawked in panic outside.  I carefully picked up baby and took her outside where she would be closer to her parents.



The little baby could fly a little and immediately made her way into a tree where she was greeted by Mom and Dad.  And, in case you're wondering about the other little baby, my husband finally found him safe and sound on a tree branch. 

They blend into their surroundings amazingly well.  When we left them for the evening, Mom and Dad were trying to corral their young'uns, no doubt trying to get them to a safe spot for the night.  All's well that ends well.  Bye bye baby, I'll miss you.



20 comments:

  1. OMG SO precious!!!! Great story and I'm so glad they all made it home safe and sound.

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    1. They sure are precious. I hope they had a fun first day frolicking in the woods.

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  2. Love Cardinals. A pair nested in our backyard. I watched Mama bird sit on the nest for 2 weeks, but no babies. Glad yours had a happier ending.

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    1. Gosh that's a bummer. Sitting on eggs for 2 weeks and then nothing has got to be a let down. I worried about our Mama bird as well because the greenhouse is so hot, but I guess the extra heat was not a problem.

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  3. Fantastic photojournal of the little babies -- they are so cute! What good parents they had, as well as human guardians!

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    1. The cardinal parenting style is very impressive. I'm glad I was able to help them along in a small way.

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  4. Love the play by play, Ally! They are so cute. What a privilege to witness a sweet miracle.

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    1. I very much looked forward to my daily visit to check their progress. I still can't believe all that happened in 10 days. It really is a miracle.

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  5. Great set of photos as sweet story. Cardinals are wonderful parents--glad they made it out of the greenhouse and hope they'll be safe in the big, bad world out there!

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    1. The greenhouse seems pretty empty without them today. Our 2 acres is pretty bird friendly, so hopefully they are enjoying the lovely weather and plentiful food supply.

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  6. Great photos. How lucky to get to document the whole thing.

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    1. We have so many trees and places that Mamma cardinal could have built her nest. The fact that she picked my greenhouse was a stroke of luck. I doubt an opportunity like that will come along again, but who knows, maybe she'll pick that spot again for next year.

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  7. Great documentation. I didn't know they fledged so quickly, or that they left the nest before being fully independent.

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    1. I read on the web that they left the nest in 7-10 days, but I really didn't believe it until I witnessed it. Incredible!

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  8. Kathryn/plantwhateverbringsyoujoy.comApril 18, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    Is there anything more wonderful in the garden that witnessing this circle of life? Isn't it TERRIFYING when you learn that fledglings don't FLY????? And you've watched them as if they are your own and then you see them clinging to unlikely places, so vulnerable?
    Thank goodness there was an evolutionary decision to at least make them not RED upon hatching! Well done. Thank you so much for sharing. I know what work went into this!

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    1. Yes, thank goodness they don't have any red coloring. They blend perfectly into the forest floor and with the local trees. Excellent evolutionary planning on the part of nature for sure.

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  9. Love it! And, I thought the 'I'm invisible' caption was really funny.

    Cindy S.

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  10. I thought it appropriate this morning when I heard, "Pretty, pretty, pretty," and the source was a Cardinal.

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  11. I'm glad the momma bird managed to rear her babies. Two years in a row the jays removed the babies from the nest. I could have wept.

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  12. GreAT story! Loved all the pictures! Thanks for sharing!
    Dorthy new tocardinal country!

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