Providing a Safe Haven

Nature is cruel, but we don’t have to be. Temple Grandin

For the first time this spring, we had birds build nests up in the eves of our deck. Two nests were built, on either side of the staircase, by what looked like two different robin families; however, only one nest proved viable. In June, we noticed a pair of robins taking turns sitting in the nest on our side of the staircase and the birds would actually let us hang out on our deck while they were nesting. Pretty soon, we saw the robin couple, mom and dad, taking turns feeding what appeared to be two chicks in the nest and sitting in the nest alongside their babies.

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The family chirped away and the babies grew and I was surprised at how fascinating it was to watch this robin family interact and raise their babies. I’ve never spent that much time observing birds so closely. Frankly, I usually like to give birds a wide birth and try to avoid any reason to think of famous Alfred Hitchcock movies related to feathered creatures.

Sometimes you just gotta be drop-kicked out of the nest.  Robert Downey, Jr.

On Monday, June 22, after finishing up our last day of school (for teachers), I headed out to run an errand and found that one of the robin chicks had fallen two flights of stairs and was laying on one of our back steps. It was alive, but it didn’t look good. I ran my errand and when I came home, it was still in the same place and still breathing. I went in to our condo and talked to Terry (who likes birds and wants to have them as pets in the house some day) about the bird and we decided to scoop it up and put it in a box. We didn’t want it out in the open–or a neighbor to step on it! We have these cool wine boxes for our plants and so we decided to use one of those as a makeshift nest.

Terry scooped up the baby off of the step and put it into the box which I had lined with some scraps for comfy padding and we set it on our deck box, less than a couple of feet from the nest. I then went on a research binge to see what we should do with this tiny creature. I found some really useful videos and learned a great deal about robins. Most importantly, I found that it is ok to touch the baby, since robin parents don’t disown their young if a human touches it and that it it is fine to try to feed the chick, as well.

I did try to feed the chick some berries and dog food (all suggestions from the internet), but it didn’t seem to be particularly interested in eating that first evening. And when it got dark, it became chilly, so I was concerned that it wouldn’t be able to stay warm enough overnight. Looking out the door, I didn’t see either of the parents getting close and so I was very worried.

Basically, I didn’t think this baby bird would last through the night.

But it did!

I tried to feed it more blueberries (blueberry crops have been amazing throughout the spring and summer!) and then backed off into the condo to see if the parents would become involved.  It wasn’t long before the parents were chirping and making quite the racket while feeding their youngster. Needless to say, I was very happy that they were stepping in and knew what to do!

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Very quickly, the robin family became comfortable enough with my being on the deck and sharing in the fussing over the baby bird that I could sit on the deck to observe and take pictures. The parents divided their time between their nest–where Baby Bird’s sibling still resided–and the wine box on the deck with ‘our’ baby bird inside, bringing food for both nests.

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The opportunities in this world are as great as we have the imagination to see them… but we never get that view from the bottom of the nest. Charles Kettering

By Friday morning, Baby Bird had grown quite a bit in a short time and was becoming restless.

It was ready to go again.

I lucked out and while I was taking pictures, this precocious bird decided to make another big leap in its short life and I was able to capture it!

Again, Baby Bird thought it was ready to leave the nest (its wanderlust seems to be what got it into trouble in the first place); however, because it didn’t yet have a developed tail wing, I didn’t think it was ready and so I put it in a larger makeshift nest, a big plastic bin.

Granted the plastic tub allowed the bird to see out, but it didn’t offer any shade and so we put the tub inside a big box, which offered shade, but didn’t really make Baby Bird happy. By late afternoon, that really didn’t matter. There were bigger issues to deal with considering a storm was blowing in and warnings were being issued. We tried to secure everything the best we could, including the baby bird and its makeshift nest, before the storm hit, but by the time the storm rolled in, we could only hope for the best.

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Luckily, Baby Bird survived the storm–and we were graced with a beautiful rainbow.

However, the next morning we had to contend with more of nature’s more dramatic realities: a neighborhood cat got a red breasted bird (I assumed a robin) and we realized that Baby Bird’s sibling did not make it through either the storm or the night. I personally witnessed the ruckus with the cat and saw it carry away its prey across our building’s parking lot while a group of birds tried to attack the cat and save their fellow bird, which included making a lot of noise. Trauma. And with all of the drama, we realized that Baby Bird’s sibling was gone and that Mama Robin had visited the nest and hadn’t found her nestling. It most likely blew out of the nest during the storm–or took the cue of its sibling and took off. Considering I caught a picture of a very brightly colored red breast bird on the electric lines behind our building, I’m going to assume the cat got it rather than Baby Robin’s sibling, which hadn’t developed any bright red markings.

The Universe will kick you out of your nest so you can fly.  James Arthur Ray

Anyway, by noon Saturday, Baby Bird was ready to be on the move, perching itself on the edge of the box and being fed by its parents.

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Soon, Baby Bird hopped down to the deck. Uh, oh.

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At least I remembered to catch some video footage.

Considering the feline attack earlier in the day, however, and knowing that our neighbors across the street care for the neighborhood stray cats, I was very concerned for the safety of Baby Bird, especially as it became increasingly more independent. However, it wasn’t long before Baby Bird was taking off down the deck.

Saturday, it wasn’t quite ready to fly off.

When the nest becomes too small a bird is ready to spread its wings and fly.  Matshona Dhliwayo

However, by Sunday afternoon, Baby Bird was ready to soar…and did, leaping off the relative safety of our deck and gliding across the street, landing right in front of the neighbor who helps take care of the neighborhood cats! Needless to say, I assumed the worst.

Until two days later, on Tuesday, when Baby Bird made a quick return to say ‘hi and I’m ok” with one of its parents looking on from the background.

I got to say goodbye, able to let go, while Baby Bird was able to fly off.

A bird is safe in its nest – but that is not what its wings are made for.  Amit Ray



5 thoughts on “Providing a Safe Haven

  1. JoAnn, I was riveted by your baby bird story and pictures! How did it survive that fall???? Birds made nest in between our garage and its gutter and baby bird fell out and croaked! Got a shovel and put it in the dumpster. Not exactly a poignant story…

    Started virtual staff training this week. And, surprise, our county has been downgraded to orange, from red, and other districts going to do blended learning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have no idea how it survived the fall–because it truly was a two story fall. I kept assuming it was heading to the dumpster, but it kept rebounding. Very resilient creature! Another summer story about nature’s cruelty: Bleu got a squirrel while we were visiting at my parents last month. Glad Terry was there to take care of it.

      Glad your county is showing COVID decrease. Does that mean you are going to blended/hybrid before 2nd quarter–or waiting to see how it goes with other districts?

      Virtual PD is going to be interesting, especially considering some teachers are opting to work from school this quarter. Grateful that I can work from home, although concerned with the schedule that is being imposed on us. Hope my brain doesn’t turn to mush being ‘live’ on screen so much of my time!

      Regardless, hang in there!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Weekly Round-Up | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

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