Saturday, May 30, 2009

The End Of The Story

What motivates the last one to leave the nest? After all, there's pl-en-ty of room in there now that the other two are gone. Mom's still feeding the others, as they venture into the surrounding trees. Won't she continue to bring your share to the old place? Hm. You can certainly hear both parents chirping up a storm of encouragement as the last little guy stands uncertainly on the branch above, looking around before taking his leap of faith.
And quite a leap it was! At 7:45 this morning, just a moment after I snapped this, he jumped up and flew about eight feet....directly into the side of the neighbor's house! (oh, ouchie...) But he's okay! As you can see from this movie, he got right up and hopped under a bush. The screechy chirps, very audible at the end, are the parents, yelling at him in a firm but loving way.

And that's it, I suppose. Probably won't see them again. Let's hope they beat the odds and all make it through the summer. Thanks for the experience, guys!

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Last Lonely Eagle

Okay, not an eagle. The last of the robins. Early in the morning, I saw there were still two in the nest, and then I wandered to the back of the yard to look at the clematis, which had just bloomed. I noticed a big *splat!* of white on a lower branch of the scrub pine, and another on the dark brown mulch below that. Well, I can put doo and doo together...and looking up I found the little one who'd jumped out yesterday! He's a good 12-14 feet up in that pine tree, where I hope he's safe for now. Just before we left for work, around noon, I checked the nest and there was only the one above, left all alone and looking so fierce, I didn't dare get closer, so I apologize for the poor focus. I have no idea where the second one went.
Needless to say, Fiona remained in lockdown today, and she can't wait until this is over. Her favorite chair is right next to the tree! And she has a lot of napping to do out there!
Can't believe I have to go to work tomorrow. My friend Anne Marie is right - I need to ask for birdternity leave....

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Into The Great Wide Open

I was at work today when DH actually witnessed the first little one leap from the nest, to the top of the fence, and from there...who knows? It was gone by the time he got back with his camera. It was a good time to go: there was a gentle drizzle all day, so neighborhood cats were not on the prowl, and I kept Fiona confined to the garage; with a little luck, the brave one is stashed someplace safe. Above, the remaining two appear apprehensive. One of them will probably leave tomorrow. (I'll bet it's the one giving me the fisheye...)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Crowded House

Things are getting a bit crowded in chez spruce tree. Let's see: I think they were born on the 14th, so it should be only a day or two before they start moving out; they should all leave within a day of one another, and then remain under cover on the ground, in separate locations, still being fed by their parents while they hop around, learn to hunt their own food, and in a week or two, develop the ability for sustained flight. That's the best-case scenario, and it may happen for one of them, or none; according to this University of Michigan site, only a quarter of young robins survive their first summer. The breeding pair that raised these three will probably produce another clutch of eggs this season, but the female will build a new nest in a different tree. Truly, these are some hard-working parents; all day every day has been devoted to brooding, feeding, hauling away waste, and feeding again, about every fifteen minutes during daylight hours. (Yes, I have spent quite a lot a time watching them. I figure I won't have another opportunity like this, and it's my vacation, okay?)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More Wrms, Plz?

Above: Monday, the 18th.
Above and below: Tuesday, the 19th. (Eyes open! Then, zzzzzzz.)

Above and below: Today, Wednesday, the 20th.
I thought human kids grew quickly, but they don't beat these guys. Just yesterday they wore nothing but a few threads of white down over their wrinkly pink skin, and this morning - pin feathers have sprouted! They sleep a lot, they're pretty much asleep even when their mouths are open. Now, sad to say, it looks like there are only three chicks in the nest, not four. The last few nights felt awfully cold, and I'm afraid one was lost, possibly on Sunday night. Or perhaps, that fourth egg never did hatch and the 'rents did what they had to do. It's hard to tell from any of the photos exactly how many heads there are in that nest. (It's crowded.) The forecast for the next few days is warm and sunny, though, so that's one less thing to worry about. Now I can concentrate on the, um, flu-like symptoms I fell ill with yesterday. (uh-oh!)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Other Denizens Of The 'Burbs

Welcome to Jurassic Park! What with the birds and lizards, we're rockin' a prehistoric vibe here in the backyard habitat. The Italian wall lizards are more numerous and somewhat less skittish than last year. (By "less skittish" I mean it takes them two nanoseconds to disappear, instead of one. See how much closer I got to this one? Thank you, zoom lens.)
And here below, a tiny dancer, who's probably trouble in search of a tender green shoot, but today, I'll live and let live.

(New baby bird photo from today is on my Facebook page.)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Weekend Frontier

We almost never see movies in a theatre anymore, but hey, it's the new Star Trek! Ya need a big screen for that. Only the second weekend, and it was a cold, gray day, so we expected a crowd and left ourselves plenty of time.

Um, guess we didn't need to do that. Maybe two dozen people were there, including us. But we loved it, the people behind us loved it, the guy in front of us, conducting the music and pumping his fist in the air definitely loved it, and I bet you will, too. (Unless you're expecting a Gene-Rodenberryesque-social-sci-fi-informed-by-the-Cold-War kind of treatment. It's not that.) But folks, it was awesome.

Bird nest update: Cold again, still gray and drizzly. Must take back my remark about the male robin; he's bringing food to the nest, and I think he even takes a turn sitting now and then, though not as regularly or for as long as the male mourning dove did. I can't tell the two robins apart ("I'm a librarian, Jim, not an ornithologist!") but I think he spells her so she can stretch her wings and get a bite to eat herself. Here's how they look on Day 3:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Now We Are Four

The fourth egg hatched successfully and mama is spending all her time sitting and feeding and flying off to get more food. (Papa robin, it seems, has no hand in the domestic chores; he's strictly in charge of security.) Here's a short piece of movie from this morning.

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's Their Birthday!

This morning we noticed a lot of to-ing and fro-ing from the spruce, and upon her return the mama robin would fuss about inside the nest. When she took off again, I stole a photo and a snippet of movie. Three of the eggs had hatched! It was so hard to leave for work after that. We won't be back until after dark, so it's not until tomorrow that we'll get to see if the fourth egg hatches...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ken Gets A Shout-Out

Usually, our postal mail is boring. Bills, ads, solicitations. But today, today there was a package, and what did it contain but two inscribed copies of a new hardcover novel by Kim Ablon Whitney. In the acknowledgements, she thanks Ken for reviewing the manuscript! I am proud as punch, and so pleased to have this soapbox from which to shout it.
So today, we interrupt the never-ending saga of What's Going On In My Backyard to mention this great new novel for young adults, The Other Half of Life.
It's based on the true story of the MS St. Louis, which left Germany bound for Cuba, and eventually the U.S., on May 13th, 1939. She carried 937 passengers, most of them Jews escaping Hitler's persecution, and a ship's crew of Nazis. Whitney's novel imagines the lives of two of the passengers, illuminating this heartbreaking but little-known event.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Blue On Blue

After a solid week of rain, unfortunate accidents, and then some very sad news yesterday, it was a balm to see the sun this morning. All the neighborhood birds were on the move, fanning out across the yards looking for food, and chasing one another across the street in midair. From the kitchen window I watched a bird fly into the blue spruce next to the house. It sat there; I could just see its head. It didn't fly out again. This, I discovered, is why:

It's about six feet up in the tree, which is, itself, only seven feet tall. Once again, the vari-angle display on my Canon point-and-shoot was invaluable in obtaining the shot. You can't see the eggs from the ground; I had to hold the camera way above my head and shoot down. Yes, the morning light is harsh around the edges. I'll try to do better next time, if there is a next time. I don't want to scare off the 'rents.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Olivia's Spring Break

So, guess who stowed away in Ken's carry-on when he went to Florida last week?
The little girl had to be in the center of the action.

Olivia tried some extreme sports while down south......although the sailing lessons didn't go well...
She had a great time hanging out by the pool, enjoying the flowers...
...and relaxing in the shade.

In the evening she hung out, goofing around with the guys. Here she is posing with Ken as though she's got Daffy Duck on the end of her fishing pole. What a stitch!
Of course, spring break came to an end, as all things do, but the memories would be there forever.