Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Only Time I Wished I Owned a Shotgun

So, like all adolescents, the three baby birds that survived went through a kind of awkward stage; their still-forming spiky feathers and poop-covered nest just weren't that cute.   But then they crossed over into the fluffy feather stage and looked all cuddly.  

And then they were gone.

A real empty nest felt sad.  But, as Willie said, you just gotta hope you raised them right and let them go.

Literally the very next day, as I was watering the hanging flower plants, there in the yellow one, just two plants down from the original Home Depot nest, was a brand new nest.  

I couldn't believe my luck!  Not only was my front porch a birdie nesting ground, but I was going to get another chance to watch the miracle of nest to egg to bird.  And I was going to do it even better this time: daily photographs, proper research -- I wasn't going to make the same mistakes I made with my first baby birds.

Like the original, this one grew into a five-egg nest, complete with white fluffy cotton-looking padding for the eggs.

This picture was taken Thursday morning at about 8:00 AM.

An hour later, the nest would be empty.

That morning, as I was opening my front door to leave for work, I noticed a large crow perched on the roof of the porch near the yellow hanging flower plant. The big black crow promptly flew off as I closed the door and locked it behind me.

I made my way down the stairs to my car and looked back up at porch.

Before I knew what was happening, the crow flew back, perched on the yellow hanging flower plant, grabbed an egg in his mouth and flew away.  The mother bird, who had been near the crow the first time I saw him, flew off behind him, chirping and trying to stop him.  

My mouth and my stomach both dropped.  

I rushed back up to the nest and looked inside: only two eggs.

I wanted to cry and scream and go find the crow and shoot it and remain guard in front of the nest to prevent any more egg snatching.  

But there was nothing I could do.  After waiting around for a little bit and feeling more distraught than I ever imagined I could feel about birds' eggs, I left for work.

At my desk, I couldn't get the image of the egg in the crow's beak or the sight of the mother bird flying off next to the crow out of my head.  Feeling sickened and helpless, I googled as many things about crows and protecting birds' eggs as I could find.  I wanted to find something to make me feel better, to remind me that this was all a part of nature, as cruel as it was.  I even started looking up how often birds lay eggs, hoping I'd get lucky again, although I knew now that my porch was not safe.  Finding nothing reassuring, I resorted to looking up sites about birds and emotions, wondering how the mother bird was coping.

When I got home, I didn't even want to look in the nest.  When I eventually did, sure enough, it was empty.

Since then, I've thought about plastic owls and scarecrows and quitting my job to become a full time protector of the nest.  

A musical montage would include me looking at birds on my walks and picturing their healthy successful growth from egg to baby to independent bird.

And my fifth grade response to the whole thing continues: I officially hate crows.


Claire Just Claire Like Cher said...

And I am right there with you. This is the saddest story, it confirms every sad and depressed reaction I had to nature films in biology class about the food chain and separated from the herd and the discovery channel and everything else I cannot handle. This cannibal crow is making me so sad and mad, I can't stand it. AWFUL. De-pressed...The only thing cheering me up, of course and thank the lord above for that, is some WTUK action coming oh so soon. We will light a candle and say a prayer for the nest and whatever else we can do to help ourselves keep going. Especially you, providing home to the birds and seeing this tragedy firsthand. Nature -- I just can't take it sometimes!?! Miss you - so glad you wrote about this...beautifully done, so so sad. XOXO

Kate said...

I completely feel your pain. I am entirely too sensitive to deal with nature sometimes. On our way back from a recent trip to Ohio, I saw two ducks by the side of the highway. The female mallard clearly had been hit by a car and was no longer among the living. Her male partner stood by helplessly by quacking and walking around her. It's been over a month and I can't shake the image. You captured the feeling of helplessness beautifully. Hope things are brighter out your way! Lots-O-Love, Kate