How will you ever write about this Eliza said in a quiet way that made it much more of a statement than a question. We were standing together looking down at the overturned birdhouse, and I could feel her heart breaking right alongside mine.
Just a few days earlier we’d giggled together as we said goodbye to the bluebird nestlings, a short beach trip in our immediate future. They’d been so rambunctious, those wild little creatures, their beaks stretching impossibly wide as they screamed for food. I hate to leave them I said back then (as if my being around would do anything to prevent a highly likely attack on the nest. Ha.). Danger lurked around every corner, that was for sure.
And so I took one more precious photo of the babies, wished them well, and along with Tim and Eliza, boarded a plane for Sarasota.
We made the return trip home four days later. Even though it was quite late, I headed right down those steps the moment we arrived, eager to get a look at the birdhouse through the big studio window. They’ll be so big! I thought. I hope they haven’t fledged already—I would be so sad to miss that! And then I made my way to the window and looked in the direction of the nest.
There was nothing there, no birdhouse at all.
Oh No I thought.
I stepped back quickly and turned on the porch light, knowing my next move would need to be a trip outside. I was terrified of what I might see when I crossed over the door’s threshold. And sure enough there it was on its back, my bought-on-a-whim decorative green birdhouse, knocked to the ground two feet from the table on which it previously sat.
The cute little bird cut-out opening looked like a crime scene.
Oh my God I said out loud. What happened? Who did this? Are the parents around? Can the little ones still be inside? Is there a chance any of them survived?
And then I called out Hey babies, hey babies, are you in there?
There was no sound at all.
It took me a minute, I cannot lie, to look closer. But I knew I had to. And so I summoned both my courage and my iPhone light and shown it into the opening. There were birds in there, yes. But there was no sign of life.
I stood back a moment, in despair and disbelief. Where were the parents? What should I do?
I took one more look. This time I saw a tiny moment from one of the birds, a minute shift of the head and then breathing so slight I wasn’t even sure it was real. I bounded up the stairs.
Tim, Eliza, come help. Something’s happened to the nest. I’m afraid the bluebird babies are dead. And I ran back down, frantic, unsure, lost.
I didn’t know what to do. Should I try to get to the breathing baby, to remove him from that awful dark den? How would I even accomplish it? The only way in was through that small opening on the front, and surely I would further injure him in my attempt. Should I move the birdhouse itself?
WHERE WAS THEIR MAMA????
And so I dialed my dear friend and neighbor, Jay Coles, who just happens to be director of Carolina Wildlife Center.
You need to leave the baby where he is said Jay. But move the birdhouse back and set it upright. Put it where it was, so the parents can get to him. They’ll take care of it.
BUT I DON’T KNOW WHERE THEY ARE I nearly yelled.
It will be okay said Jay in a voice so sure and calm. The parents will know what to do.
And so we carefully uprighted the birdhouse and we put it right back on that table and I went to bed praying (without much hope, if you want to know the truth) that the little guy would make it through the night.
I woke up around 6am, when I heard the call of a bluebird. I grabbed my shorts and ran down the stairs, making my way slowly and quietly into the dark studio. I sat still as a statue on my stool in front of the window. The birdhouse was still on the table, still standing. At least that’s something I thought. About that time I saw the Mama bird just to the left of the porch, clinging to the brick column. There was no food in her mouth, but she was looking toward the nest. In short order she flew to the perch and put her head inside the opening.
She was there a long time—at least it seemed a long time, as I was holding my breath—and then she flew away. What did she see in there I wondered. What will she do next.
In no time she was back, and this time she went straight to the opening and disappeared into it. Then she was gone again.
I made my way quietly out the door and tiptoed toward the birdhouse. All at once I saw this little head and snapped the photo as quickly as I could.
Then it was time to get ready to go to work.
It was a long day away from that nest, unsure as I was to the goings-on there. When I finally got home this afternoon I found this joy.
(In fact, I believe there are four surviving birds, although that is currently unconfirmed.)
I continued to fret, and so dear Jay made his way down the street to help me relocate the birdhouse to a higher spot. It is now attached to the brick wall making it all but impossible for the offending beast (cat? raccoon? possum?) to knock it down.
How grateful I am for this latest miracle. How in awe I am that just as Jay said, the parents knew exactly what to do.
Thanks and praise, is what I say. Thanks and praise.