We hung a birdhouse in our back yard last summer. In the fall, we found that something had stuffed it with sticks and grass, but we never saw our little builder. We waited for someone else to move in, and as we marched into spring, I began to think that our birdhouse would sit empty for another season.
A few weeks ago, I noticed something flitting away from the birdhouse. Or at least I thought I did. The creature seemed to know when my head was turned, so again and again, I caught the movement only with my peripheral vision. One day, the bird — a Carolina chickadee — finally perched at the edge of the birdhouse. It hopped inside and flew back out within seconds. I knew what that meant.
Greg peeked into the house first. He then boosted Eleanor and, later, with a bit of wheezing, me, so that we could see. Each baby was but a few feathers and a desperately wide beak.
A few days after this discovery, I looked into our yard and saw empty space where the birdhouse should have been. The birdhouse lay on its side on the ground, the opening blessedly facing upward. Both parents watched from the branches above, chirping loudly.
I yelped, and Eleanor came running. I feared that a cat had already made playthings of the babies. I ran outside, peered in, and saw that at least some of the beaks still gaped desperately. The twine on the birdhouse had frayed and broken, probably the work of a squirrel. I’m not one to normally intervene with nature. I accept the whole circle of life thing and understand that nature is cruel. I have lived it, right? But we, the flawed humans, had provided the shoddy birdhouse.
I perched the birdhouse on the corner of our porch railing and went back into the house to watch. Neither of the parents approached. I couldn’t tell whether they didn’t see the birdhouse or were just frightened to come onto the porch. I tried to talk myself through the problem and knew that I was close to crying, the baby birds now all wrapped up with my feelings about Genevieve. Why am I so bad at keeping babies alive? Eleanor was watching, so I had to calm myself.
I went back outside and moved the table that was on our patio to the middle of the yard. Then I stacked a plant stand on the table. I set the birdhouse on the plant stand. Almost as soon as I stepped back inside, one of the parents flew into the house. I knew that a cat roaming through our yard could still easily get into the birdhouse, so I sent an email to Greg. He shared my determination to rescue the birds and came home from work to rehang the house.
Later in the day, I noticed that the bottom of the birdhouse was about to detach. Again, Greg went out to make repairs. Those poor birds.
It’s been a week since the crash, and the parents are constantly darting in the and out of the house, so I assume the birds are thriving. I’m grateful that I could help launch a few babies into this world even if they aren’t my own.
And, yes, we are absolutely getting a better birdhouse after they move out.