Saturday, May 22, 2010

Learning to Fly

A while back I noticed a birds nest in our red maple tree. It wasn't a very big nest, but the momma and poppa bird did a great job constructing it. The grass was woven from the nest, around the branches of the tree and then back into the nest. This was a good thing because they didn't pick the best tree to build it in. Our maple didn't fair well in the freeze this year and some of the limbs died. Without as many branches there aren't as many leaves, so when the wind blows the branches that are left really sway.

They were Orchard Orioles and Momma was yellow and Poppa was orange. I could see the parents bringing worms into the nest, but I never saw or heard the babies. Until last Monday night.

Duane heard a squeaking sound outside and we went to check it out. We found 2 of our cats surrounding this tiny little yellow bird. I scooped up the baby bird, went inside with it and googled what to do with it. I couldn't tell if there was anything wrong with it, but it sat kinda crooked in my hand, so it might have been injured. The information I found on the Internet said to get the bird back in its nest, so we dragged the ladder out to the tree and on the way out there we found another baby under the tree. That one had not been so lucky and I'm sure it had fallen prey to Bobo, our hummingbird murdering cat. We managed to get the one that had survived back in the nest and I was hoping the parents would show up. Not sure why, because I can't imagine that if they did, and the babies fell out of the nest again, they would be able to pick them up and get them to safety. So we got all the cats inside and locked the cat door for the night.

First thing Tuesday morning I went outside with my coffee to sit and watch the tree. I could see a baby sitting on a branch near the nest, but no parents yet. But then out of the corner of my eye I saw something jumping off the ground in front of the barn. Another wayward baby trying to fly. So out to the barn I went and I ended up chasing that bird all over the yard trying to get it. Every time I would get close enough to scoop it up, the baby would jump somewhere else. I chased that thing all over the place, under the trampoline and behind the barn. That's when Momma bird showed up and started squawking. Poppa bird must have heard the commotion because he showed up too and those birds were NOT happy! They were chirping and flying around me in circles, until I managed to finally get the baby and put him safely back in the tree.

By this time, Momma must have noticed she was missing one of her young, because she kept flying around the tree and looking all over the ground as if searching for something. She mainly stayed on the opposite side of the tree, so it was difficult to get a picture of her, but I was able to snap this one of her through the leaves.

And this is a little random, but during my search of the tree to try and count the babies, I saw this strange little bug. At first I thought it was a small cotton ball that had maybe blown through the air and landed on our tree, but after watching it I realized that wasn't the case because IT WAS MOVING! This little white puffball is a bug! No idea what it is, but it was pretty funny watching this ball of fuzz walking on the limbs of the tree.

Back to the birds...

This was the first baby that I had found near the barn. I stuck him back on a limb, lower than the nest obviously, since I'm no way near tall enough to do that and I wasn't dragging the ladder out again.

After my search of the tree I saw 3 birds total, so there must have been 4, counting the one the cats got. They were so sweet, with their down sticking out of the tops of their heads. They reminded me of Albert Einstein, with that white hair sticking out every which way.

I was trying to get ready for work, but kept worrying about the birds, so I kept making trips around the yard searching for stragglers. On my last trip before leaving the house, I found this little guy, who proceeded to crap on my fingers, near the back of the barn.

Behind the barn we have a pecan tree and next to the pecan tree, in our neighbor Bob the Builders yard, is a Crepe Myrtle and behind the Crepe Myrtle, in our other neighbors yard, is the huge tree that the falcons built their nest in last year. Now, I don't speak bird, so I don't know what all the chirping was about, but I can only imagine that those parents were telling their babies to get to those trees in the back of the yard, away from me and my murdering cat. They would fly from the pecan tree to the maple tree, flap their wings, chirp at the babies and then fly back to the pecan tree.

These next pictures are me stalking the birds. They were just so sweet that I couldn't leave them alone. Once in a while they would chirp and I'm thinking they were saying "Lady, get that camera out of my face, I'm trying to learn how to fly here!"

The night before, in my quest to find out what to do with the bird I saved from the cats, I also learned that it's all a myth about parent birds abandoning their babies if people touch them. I read that birds have a terrible sense of smell and can't tell if people have been handling them. But then again, anyone can write anything and post it on the internet, so who knows if it's true. All I know is that this Momma didn't have to smell me on her bird to know. She could clearly see that I was holding her baby. And I could clearly tell that she wasn't going to abandon it. Not with all the squawking and flying around she was doing.

I eventually put the baby back in the tree, kept the cats locked inside and off to work I went.

Duane gets home an hour before me so I called him to see if he had seen any birds. He hadn't. But the first place I went after getting home was out to the tree. Of course I had to stop at the Winn Dixie on my way home to buy oranges and grape jelly, because I had read that's what Orchard Orioles like and I wanted to give them a peace offering for torturing them that morning, and also to maybe lure them to stay around a bit longer after their babies started flying.

When I finally got out to the tree I could only see one baby in it. Sitting contently on the branches. Momma saw me and started squawking again and wouldn't you know it, that baby flew! You can barely see him behind the bare branches in the picture above, but he's flying! Flying to a higher branch in his quest to get away from me I'm sure.

Meanwhile, Momma was still searching for her babies. She kept looking down at the ground on both sides of the fence. It was pretty sad :(

This is the last picture I got of the baby. On Friday morning, while we were waiting to pull out of our subdivision on the way to school, Blaire and I had witnessed a hit and run accident. And as I was waiting to watch the baby bird fly away, our neighbor, the one that had gotten hit in the hit and run, came over to get my contact information. When I finally was able to return to the backyard the baby was gone and all the baby bird chirps were now coming from the pecan tree behind the barn. Success!

Except I later found another baby in the grass next to the maple who didn't make it. It was right near where the momma bird kept looking at the ground, so she must have known it was there before I did. I'm thinking it was the one that the cats had injured the night before. So it was a happy and sad situation, but at least one of the babies made it, possible two, because I never saw the fourth bird after I had left in the morning. I choose to believe that it made it to the pecan tree before I made it home from work that day :)


  1. Stephanie your so fantastic. I sure like the story about the baby birds and how well you took care for them. Will soon post on pictures on fb about the Dove nest the girls and I found in one of my trees. Have pict of one of the parents and another just the two eggs.


  2. Beautiful story from my sister the Bird Whisperer :) When I lived in Reno, a bluejay had a nest in a tree in my backyard. One day the baby fell out of the nest and I got it back up into the nest before my bird murdering cat got to it. Cat sat under the tree for 5 hours waiting for it to fall again. This whole time (and a couple years after) Momma Jay would squawk and dive bomb the cat every chance she got!

  3. gorgeous photos, otis. you and lizard are find photographers and you suppose it's because you were required to keep journals every summer?!! will print your blog in color for g'ma. xo momma

  4. The pictures came out really good. The babies are so cute and fuzzy!

  5. I can't wait to see your pictures of the doves nest and the eggs, Dad!

    Liz, the day after I put the orange with grape jelly out on the fence for the orioles a squirrel came up on it, but as soon as he sniffed it he jumped back like he had been electrocuted lol. So then he tried climbing down and then up the fence to get around the orange but the momma oriole came down out of the tree and bopped him on the head!! It was soooo funny!!

    I'm sure it had something to do with the summer journaling Momma :) Thank you for that! And thank you for sharing with Gramma :))

    Thanks Gretchen! I can't wait to see your baby birdies :)

  6. This was fascinating to read and watch. Loved it! The ending was sad...but such is life, right? Really sweet bird pictures!


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