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 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.
|SO FRAGILE LOOKING!|
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.