we have some sad news here by the bay. both nests (cardinal & mourning dove) in our yaupon tree have, at some point through recent nights, succumbed to nature's reality - not every baby grows to adulthood.
this was hard for the children & i to bear witness to; it is sad, & yet it evokes a knowledge of the fragility of life that makes one feel gratitude to simply be alive. to simply appreciate the tiniest things.
last week, we went to sleep with all eggs present & mommas roosting. in the morning the dove was gone & no egg was in sight. gone without a trace. & we have not seen momma around since.
we awoke another morning to find, not eggs, but tiny hatchlings in the cardinal nest. they were still quite slick, indicating a fairly recent appearance from the eggs. throughout the day we watched as momma went back & forth, gathering seed to feed her very hungry brood. while she was away, dad stood guard on a nearby branch. later in the day, their faint down was dry and fluffy - so very sweet!
next morning they were even more "fluffed" and they seemed to move a bit more efficiently too.
once and awhile, one would poke up his (her?) beak & open wide. look very carefully at the photo & you will see the one baby's open beak (VERY wide!) at the top of their "lump".
when momma returned, she would make a chipping sound as she came into the tree. on cue, all 3 of them would open up for her.
morning of day 3...the nest is empty. so very empty. the silence is heartbreaking. we found no clue as to what happened. some of our crowd intellectualized the situation - googling information about baby birds & their predators (could the squirrel or oppossum who frequent our tree have reached them?). some of us philosophized - life is fleeting & fragile. some of us identified, overlaying our "people" thoughts onto the bird & wondering if momma was sad. all of us miss our sweet little neighbors.
one note of hope... this morning, a momma cardinal (we have no way to know if it is "our" original momma) sat by the nest for a few moments. will she come back? was she, somehow, remembering?