Wednesday, June 4, 2008

File a Flight Plan

For the last 10 days or so, I've been on baby bird watch. Right outside the back door, a mother cardinal built a nest and proceeded to hatch out 3 eggs. I can't imagine what she was thinking, as this is a highly traveled path from the house to the yard both by the human inhabitants and the canine ones. (Can you say, "Bird Brain?")

This morning as we all trooped out the door on our way to the kennel for breakfast, I stopped to take stock of the situation as I have every morning for days. Lo and behold, 2 baby cardinals were sitting on the edges of the nest. Baby #3 was nowhere to be seen. I'm telling myself he/she had already flown the coop, but I'm afraid that might be a lie. I'll know when I go out to trim the gardenia bushes where the nest resides. Then I noticed that Mom & Pop were flying from pillar to post, chirping their little hearts out. Surely, I thought, they can't be calling them out of the nest THIS early. They just hatched out a little over a week ago. Wrong. That's exactly what they were doing.

It's been hard to do anything much today for running to the windows every 20 minutes to see what's going on. First, babies were perching in gardenia limbs. Next thing I knew, there was one sitting in the chain link fence. A little while later, there was one flopping over in the hosta bed. Finally, about an hour ago, both of them were sitting somewhere off the ground at least: one each in the whiskey barrels sitting under the Bradford pear tree. (#3 is still MIA.) The parents were still zooming around every few minutes trying to get them to try those wings -- that, by the way, have hardly any feathers on them to speak of to my way of thinking.

Five minutes ago, I looked outside. Nothing. No parents. No babies. No chirping. I hope they've made it out of the backyard or at least up in the tree. Keeping two terriers in the dark about flopping baby birds is hard work. Tonight I'm taking the nest out of that gardenia. I'd rather not be on call again soon as the protector of fledgling flyers.

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