They say You’re Getting Old When . . .
They say you are getting old when you take up bird watching.
I may have an ‘old soul’ because I’ve enjoyed watching birds for a long time. Yet, I’m not sure my adult children can tell the difference between a blue bird and a blue jay, so there may be some truth to it. If it is possible to “inherit” a trait from a non-blood-related person I would say I inherited my love for birds from my mother-in-law. As long as I knew her, she had multiple feeders strategically placed throughout her yard. It didn’t even bother her when a varmint like an opossum would dine on the bird seed because she knew it would spread a few seeds on the ground and attract another variety of bird to the yard.
I’ve already written a couple stories this year about the birds we have in our yard and their secret lives filled with drama, betrayal, love, and tragic loss. Several weeks ago, I relayed the story of our resident Bluebird pair who met a tragic end (the female being killed and their nest destroyed just after the eggs had hatched) and then the lonely male calling for her day after day from the tree tops.
Well, there is a happy ending after all.
The male was able to move on after his tragic loss; he created a profile on the trendiest bird matching app, and attracted a new female and showed her his accommodations. He had to pop inside it a dozen times before she felt the desire to enter the dwelling and even then it didn’t look like she was convinced. But eventually she must have realized they couldn’t afford anything new with the crazy mortgage rates and the pair went about building a new nest inside.
Perhaps as an act of self-preservation, the pair was very low-key when it came to incubating, hatching, and feeding their babies this time. We did not see nearly the amount of activity we had before and even wondered if they were having any success. Even when we weeded the garden nearby, we did not hear any activity inside the box and we never saw the parents carry away poop-sacks like before.
And then one early morning, there was complete chaos in the backyard. There were birds everywhere. The top of the birdhouse resembled an aircraft carrier with hard landings and dangerous launches one after another. Between three juvenile and two adult Bluebirds, a couple Phoebes, and spastic Gnatcatchers we could hardly keep up with the activity. But we focused on the Bluebirds as best we could. The juveniles would fly to the ground and then back to the box, over and over again. The adults kept going inside for one final look, much like I have done when moving from a house full of memories.
And then, the male launched himself into the woods behind the birdhouse—his bright blue wings leading the way. I watched two juveniles spring from the roof of the box and follow him immediately. Then a third followed suit from a pole in the flower garden. Finally, the adult female left her perch in the pine tree and flew the same direction. In a matter of two minutes it was totally quiet and there wasn’t a bird left in the yard. They did not return again. A couple days later I was in the flower garden and decided to clean out the bird box. I pulled out a cube-shaped nest of pine straw and dried blades of grass. There was one blue egg left in the nest—perhaps the reason the adults kept going back inside the box before leaving with their three chicks.
I like to think the baffle cone we bought and attached to the post helped in their successful fledging—goodness knows we have plenty of snakes, raccoons, and bears around looking for an easy meal.
Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned from these Bluebirds. Life doesn’t always go the way we plan, but perseverance typically pays off.
Fly high, friends!