Life & Death in the Yard
The little birdhouse on the side porch is teeming with life these days. Four little nestlings have been growing rapidly and keeping their parents busy catching all manner of nutritious bugs for them to eat! It has been a joy to watch the parents flying back and forth non-stop. Mr. Sparrow is not at all afraid of us and will feed babies even when we are sitting on the porch, but Mrs. Sparrow is much more timid and if she realizes we are there will divert to the aspen trees nearby. I got these photos of her through the side door windows.
But there has been another bird tale, though this one is a sad story. While we've been working on the yard, a robin family built a nest in the maple tree on the side terrace.
It's a lovely spot, and nearby the sparrows on the porch. It seems well protected and very safe.
But remember the owls? This year there are four of them hanging around. Two parents and their two young. During the day, they stay tucked away in the trees and most of the time one wouldn't know they were around except for when the crows discover their whereabouts. Then the crows circle and make such a ruckus for hours on end, making sure that everyone in the vicinity knows that the owls are there.
Last night at dusk, we heard the robins alarm calls and went out to see what was happening. Sure enough, in the trees across the street, all four owls were perched on high branches in the trees. We chatted with some neighbors while watching them. All the while, the robins were calling alarms. Then one of the larger owls flew into the maple tree and despite the robins harassing it and trying to lure it away, it discovered the nest. This morning, all that was left in the crook of branches where the nest was located, were streamers of dried leaves and twigs, faint remnants of the nest.
The nest lay on the ground beneath. Empty.
An egg was smashed. Nearby, we found two recently hatched nestlings who did not survive the traumatic events. We think the owl had at least one or two other nestlings for dinner before we returned to the house and scared him off, though the nest had fallen before we arrived on the scene. I've never thought of birds as feeling sorrow before, but the distress call of the robin when it realized the nest was gone was chilling and my heart went out to the poor robins.
It is hard sometimes to standby and watch the cycle of life unfold. I wanted so badly to intervene and save the robin nest from the owls. But through a lifetime of observing nature, I've learned that it is best to let things take their natural course of events. When we interfere, even when it seems like we should, we irrevocably change things, and too often as humans, we cause more problems than we solve.
This morning, the robins were in the yard, bathing in the damp morning grass and hunting for food. They were not singing as they usually do and I miss their song. But I know that soon, they will sing again and build another nest in another spot, not quite so visible to the owls, and soon there will be baby robins in the yard. Life will go on.
After inspecting the crime scene of last night, I wandered the yard this morning and noticed these little "buds" popping up all through the grass.
It took a few moments to realize that that those buds were really little mushrooms and that a fairy ring is growing in the side yard!