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A Bit of Catching Up 

It feels like a very long time since I've gotten some posts up. This is partially due to the amount of things taking place in my life and in the natural world since the Killdeer story. So much happens in a single day!

I will attempt to catch up in this post with a variety of items and images from the past few weeks.

Robin Adventures: The Robins outside the nature center fledged a while back, but I thought I'd post these images of them anyway. The Robins around the sanctuary are likely on their second or third brood by now.

I would observe their behavior each day and I have to say that the parent birds are tireless when it comes to feeding and looking after their chicks. The nest began with enough room, but soon the chicks were popping over the rim like a soufflé. The mother returns with a beak full of slightly pulverized worms, stands on the edge of the nest assessing the situation in the nest. The chicks, their seemingly oversized mouths agape, jostle one another for the food. Mom seems to wait just long enough before distributing the meal, then off she goes hunting for more. The chicks in the nest settle down for a few minutes.

Newly hatched Robins in nest.(Click to enlarge photos)What's for dinner? Worms! In no time at all, the chicks feathers are ready enough for a first flight. I see one standing on the edge of the nest and I run for my camera. Returning, I carefully raise my camera to snap a few images, when to my surprise, the baby Robin leaps into the air and flutters to the ground. My initial concern for its safety disappeared when the bird sprinted away on foot, mother Robin chasing it frantically around on the grass by the tiny pond nearby. She managed to catch up to it and shepherd it out of sight. The next day, all the birds had followed suit, taking that momentous leap of faith. Instinct may compel them to jump, but I believe they had to overcome a certain fear before the leap.

The Agony of Defeat: There is the thrill of victory in the case of the Killdeer story, and then there is the agony of defeat in this short story of an unlucky Barn Swallow family (click on photos to enlarge)

Cut section of pier exposing nestBarn Swallows newly hatchedMeeting the chicksAmidst a hectic morning at work, I got a visit from a worker installing pipes and wires on the pier at the amusement park. The contractors had to cut sections of the board walk out to lay the pipes, and lo and behold, there was a Barn Swallow nest in the way. They asked me to "do something about them". I went out there to assess the situation, and as the photos show, the nest was indeed in an unfortunate place and time. Upon asking the contractors how much time I had before they began to install the pipes (hoping to get a rehabilitator to care for the birds), he answered, "I'm just waiting for you to grab that nest and move it". Well, knowing that these birds would neatly be kicked into the water below "by accident" if I lectured the contractor about Barn Swallows being protected birds and told him he had to stop all work, I opted to remove the nest and chicks. The mother swallow was frantic. I felt sad knowing that the chicks chance of survival was rapidly approaching zero percent. Still, that was a shade more than if the workers never bothered to call me.

As I transported the nest and chicks and eggs in a box, another chick hatched out as I was walking to the car. The poignancy of the situation was not lost on me, but I just kept focused on figuring out what to do. I called every rehabilitator who might handle the emergency, but all the answering machines had essentially the same message: they were not accepting any new animals as they were already too full. Their messages all said they were sorry. 

I had essentially been asked to relieve the contractors working on the pier of any guilt for the death of this clutch of innocent and helpless birds. I accepted this role cheerlessly and deliberately. 

As I made my way to the nature center with the nest in a box, I came across a school field trip being conducted by the local Audubon chapter. I explained the situation to the trip leader and asked if he would like to do a show-and-tell for the children. They were given a fine gift by those doomed chicks, and soon I was back at the nature center contemplating the reality that there was no hope for the chicks survival. 

Life is often unfair in our eyes, and some that deserve life lose it too soon, and others who create misery upon misery in the world live on for years. Behind this all is a great mystery that I struggle to understand each time I face the death of the good and the innocent.

Sweet Fawns: It is that time of year again when the White-tailed Deer give birth, and hikers and nature lovers get a thrill at seeing a newborn fawn hidden in the woods or prancing around on gangly, super-charged legs. If you want to see what pure innocence looks like, just watch them for a few minutes. There is a magic spell that comes over me when I see a fawn. Instantly a smile appears on my face and my heart opens with a joy that is unrestrained. That is the power of nature and of innocence.

Reader Comments (1)

The picture of the fawn is beautiful and touching. I saw a very little one across the street from my house a week or so ago. You're right -- it makes you smile to witness their tender ways. Thanks!

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