About a few weeks ago I noticed some activity in my butterfly bush. There were various birds flying in and out. Since the Spring three of my bird houses have been filled with babies. First it was the Bluebirds, then the woodpeckers, then these little tiny finches. Every afternoon I would try and climb on chairs and ladders to peak into their houses but it was always too dark or too hidden to take a good look until now.
Back to the Butterfly bush:
The nest was about five feet off the ground nestled inside the bush. I was able to stand against the house and lean in into the bush and look in. To my surprise three baby birds (don't really know what kind they were to be exact) lay comfortably in a perfectly constructed nest that could not have been more beautiful even if one of the greatest architects had designed it. From that moment on I became their nurse and checked on them once, twice and sometimes three times a day as the mother watched me from the top of my lattice fence.
At first she would chirp and yell "get out of there!" to me and I would reassure her by speaking quietly and not making any sudden movements until finally she allowed me to visit with her babies.
In the begining they would just lift their unsteady little heads and open their mouths and when I would come close they would scoot down and bury their little heads next to each other and lay perfectly still. I'm assuming this is a survival behavior. But as my visits became more and more frequent, the three little guys began to look straight at me and lay still not straying from their steady eye contact.
Every day their feathers grew furrier and fluffier and their little necks grew stronger. On my brief and frequent daily visits I would speak quietly to them and well, okay yes I sang to them. It went something like this:
"Welcome to the world, welcome little ones. I will care for you, when your mommy's gone. Welcome little ones."
Don't laugh but I think they got used to my voice.
My husband listened every day on the phone from work or in the evenings as he sat at dinner or in front of his computer about my daily bird reports. He'd nod and pretend he was listening. ( I know he really wasn't.)
Well last week my husband had to travel to Los Angeles. I kept him informed about the birds and sent him these very same photos from my phone.
A few nights ago the weather report stated we were in for a strong thunder storm. I could not concentrate. All I thought of was the birds. Would they survive such a storm? Did they have enough cover from the branches and leaves? Would they fall out? Was the nest sturdy and strong enough to withstand severe weather and winds? Had the birds experienced thunder before? No they hadn't.
I walked outside and began calculating endless ideas in my head. I thought of rigging an umbrella at the top of the tree. Perhaps a sheet of somekind or tarp to keep them dry? Ziplock bags? Bringing over my deck umbrellas and opening them up all around the tree. But each idea had a downside and I was left to surrender to the laws of nature.
The storm came and I kept looking through my kitchen window where I could see the tree. As my dogs trembled form fear at the flashes of lightning and crashing thunder, I prayed and worried for the little ones to be safe and tracked the weather reports to see when this storm would end. It was about 2 in the morning when it finally stopped. I was in bed and not in any condition to walk outside and check on the birds so I fell asleep praying that they were alright and had possibly survived.
The next morning I raced outside. (I wish I had taken my phone to take a photo.) With all the excitement to see if they were alright I failed to bring my phone out to capture what I saw.
The three babies were as fluffy as could be perched practically on top of one another. The minute they heard my voice they all lifted from the nest and looked at me. I mean they really looked at me as if they recognized me. I greeted them, sang to them, and had to practically grab my hands and force myself not to reach out and touch them. They had grown literally overnight as if the storm had made them fearless. I couldn't wait to tell my husband who was due home the following day.
If only I had taken another photo.
The next morning after a day of visiting the nest about five times and adding more verses to my welcome to our world song, this was what I found.
My babies were gone. They grew up before my eyes and now they were gone. If only I had taken more photos, sang to them more. My husband never got to see them furry and fluffy and wide eyed and sturdy. I don't know what this is in their nest. They look like cherry seeds. But I have no idea why they were at the bottom of the nest.
Yesterday my husband and my youngest and I spent the morning at Ikea purchasing a few items for our son's return to college. His Sophomore year already. In 14 days we will be packing the car and traveling ten hours to Knoxville, Tnn. I'm not ready. Where did the Summer go?
If only I had more time, more photos. If only the days were longer and life were slower.
I wasn't ready to see the baby birds go. I'm not ready to have my youngest go. . . again.