Saturday, June 08, 2019

My Yard is a Soap Opera--Perhaps a Bit Long--But You Do Get Addicted

(Go get some coffee or tea, as this will take a while.)

We have many birds in our yard. We have lots of bugs, and in the fall, lots of seeds, so the birds are in abundance. About 50% of our dozen or so birdhouses get filled each spring. We seem to have lots of cardinals, but their obvious bold, red color might make us think we have more than other species. My brief experience with them has shown they build their nests only three to four feet high in the shrubbery or small trees. 

One cardinal decided to build her nest in my rather sparse yellow climbing rose. Admittedly, the rose was healthier during her building days.

My roses do not really grow well here, and before summer gets into full swing the roses get black spot or drop leaves for other reasons, etc. I was trimming the dead roses a few weeks ago and suddenly something flew squawking into my face! If you looked closely at the photos below, you will see a mama cardinal sitting on a nest in the mid-right of the photo with her bright orange bill. The second photo was taken later in the season after the rose leaves had started to fall and the nest was empty.

The green tape above is where I had to tie up the nest so that it was level!! Explanation to follow. Soon when I visited and the mother was gone or frightened by my closeness while weeding I was able to capture this below.

The nest was not very neat and certainly constructed at an angle. When I went out a few days later, there was only one egg in the nest! I looked around on the ground and found the other egg that had rolled out of the slanted nest. I picked up the egg, which seemed undamaged, put it in the nest next to the other egg and pushed the rose branches a bit tighter against the trellis making the nest more level and less rocky. I used those green tapes to tie it tighter. The whole time I was doing this, the female and male were perched on the tomato cages 20 feet away and hissing at me fearfully, or angrily, or a bit of both. I walked away to wait and see if the female would return to the nest after my home improvements. After a while, she did and was back sitting on both eggs. I got busy with my life ( I do have one on rare days and weeks) and did not get back to the nest until five days later when I took this photo below.

Then my life went on and we had a rather nasty rain storm two days later, so I went out to check and this is photo I took below. 

Eyes not open and just little pin feathers for wings.

The weather cooperated for a few more days and I tried to give mama her space when I pulled weeds and watered.  She tolerated me barely.

One day while I was carrying pulled weeds to the burn pile I grabbed my camera to see if I could get a photo and luck had it that mama was off her nest and this is what I captured.

A face only a mother could love?  I was worried about the lack of shade, and in spite of the cries from mama and papa, I picked some hosta leaves and tucked them above the nest in the trellis to act as shade umbrellas.  I watched after I left and they both returned to feed the little fellow.

This drama continued for three or four more days until I went out one morning and found the nest empty! I was certain that the little fellow could not yet fly and so I looked down below into the flower bed.  

I carefully parted the leaves of the plants while the parents continued to squawk at me and I was so relieved to find the little fellow flat on the damp ground.  I placed him carefully in my hands.  He was so light and as warm as a muffin from the oven.  His little claws clung to my fingers such that I had to gently shake him to get him to release back into the nest.  He was damp and tired but I saw he was starting to get his mohawk on!

I turned to mama and papa and gently scolded them for being careless with this one surviving offspring and went back into the house.  Whether they thought I had stolen him or whether they understood I had rescued their babe, I will never know!  They returned to feeding and he returned to growing in jumps.

Thus I noticed the nest on May 14th, discovered the eggs on May 22nd, noticed the little one had hatched on May 27th,.  By June 1st he was clamoring for food.  He fell out of the nest the night of June 2nd and I put him back in the nest June 3rd.   When I went out to check on the nest June 6th, below is what I found.

The parents were not around to scold me and I am guessing with all the dangers this little guy encountered he was force to get on with his life sooner rather than later.  At least that is my belief!!  I like happy endings and I am amazed that we have any birds at all in this world.


  1. That baby cardinal went through a lot of hardships and I hope he flew away and has a long life.

  2. Hope he's all right! You did your best for him.

  3. Well done! Love this story!

  4. You've had a pleasant time watching this play out.

  5. What a way to get a start in the world!

    The doves build very flimsy nests and we've had to take many babies to the wildlife rehab hospital when the nests were so bad it wasn't even possible to put the babies back.

  6. What a rough start,and what an adventure for you to capture all of this. We will all hope that your lifesaving efforts were not in vain.

  7. I have had cardinals nest where I can watch, once in my rose bush and I documented it from nest to fledge too! they fledge in a ridiculously short span of time. 9 or 10 days. I imagine mama cardinal kicked the egg out. she must have know it was no good.

    1. I guess you may be right as I wondered if she had done it one purpose. Unfortunately, so many of her actions were poor...

  8. Sad little things. Maybe it will try again Tabor.

  9. A bit like bringing up your own children, all the worry you had to go through. Of course we don't kick them out of the nest or neglect them as birds do but there is something very cute about fledglings.

  10. Good story, same here only no where near as much as what you have going on. Gardening is an adventure, one of the best.

  11. I will go with a happy ending here too.

  12. I like Happy Endings too... your Photography is splendid and the Bird Rescue had me biting my nails in hopes it would be a Happy Ending!


Glad to hear from you once again. I really like these visits. Come sit on this log and tell me what you are thinking.