To give you a little background, we had two evergreen trees behind our house that were dying. My husband, Jim went out, chainsaw in hand. He checked for nests and saw none so started sawing sections off until both trees were laying around the yard. As he finished the second tree, he noticed a tiny baby dove laying on the ground. Ack! What to do??
Jim searched and finally found the section with the (itsy bitsy) nest in it. We decided to prop the section of tree up on our deck and put the baby in it. We waited. Mom and Dad sat nearby but wouldn’t come near. Finally, they sat on the deck railing and then it happened. The Mom went back to the completely exposed nest, which no longer had any protective branches covering it.
Every day for the past few weeks we have had the pleasure of watching this nurturing Mom take care of her baby right outside our window. The Dad is always near, either on the deck rail or sitting on the gutter looking down on his family. The Mom sat for hours in the nest and seemed to only take breaks to go get food.
When it rained, the Mom puffed herself out to at least twice her normal size to protect her baby while the rain dripped all over her back. During the rain, I went out and found an extra branch and carefully draped it over the deck rail to give her an “umbrella.” She didn’t fly away and I think she nodded a little thank you afterwards as the rain fell on the branch instead of her.
Two days ago, when it was raining again, I went out to put the branch over her again. Right as I was placing it, our dog, Brownie, ran onto the deck. The Mom flew out of the nest and stayed only 2 feet off the ground with Brownie right on her tail (and Brownie is ONE FAST DOG). I chased after them thinking “why won’t the stupid bird fly higher and get away from the dog???” After flying like that in front of 7 houses, she went up higher and Brownie gave up. On the way back, I saw her already sitting on the roof of our house. It dawned on me why she was flying so low. She wanted to make sure the dog chased HER and didn’t notice the baby in the nest!! What a great Mom!
She sat on the roof for a while after the traumatic event. The baby bird was distraught and started flapping his wings and trying to hop from branch to branch in the tree. He was trying to fly but just wasn’t ready. He got several branches away from the nest and the Mom swooped down and started trying to nudge him back to the nest. The Mom kept hopping back and forth between the baby and the nest, trying to show him the way to get back. After many tries, he finally made it and they snuggled back in to their home.
Yesterday, the baby flew for the first time. He made it to the top of the deck railing but then didn’t know what to do. Again, the Mom sat by him and kept flying back to the nest, trying to show him the way. We watched this for a long time and realized the baby just wasn’t going anywhere. It was dark so we decided to intervene. Jim went out with gloves and gently placed the baby back in the nest. The Mom joined him. I think I saw another nod of thanks.
This morning when I woke, the baby was gone. The Mom and Dad have been calling all morning. At one point the Mom was literally pacing back and forth on the deck railing. She keeps flying into the nest and looking back and forth. No baby. She is like any mother who has ever experienced a child getting out of her sight. She’s frantic. It’s heartbreaking to watch.
I walked all around the yard but didn’t see any sign of the little guy. I’m going to believe he’s out trying out his new flying skill and will come home soon. Maybe when he returns, he’ll be grounded. Maybe that’s where the term originated. Maybe he’s the equivolent of a rebellious teen.
Mother humans and birds aren’t so different. Both sacrifice, both would give up their own life. And both, perhaps, have trouble letting their babies leave the nest and spread their wings.
Next time someone calls me bird brained, I will take it as a compliment.