Monday, August 20, 2012

It Takes a Village

Every morning I wake to birdsong -- I fill the feeders each day with fresh seed to feed the multitude of birds that flock to my yard.  I love to listen to the quiet sound of the sparrows as they settle in to roost in my ivy-covered trellis each summer evening.  However, as much as I love sharing my yard with these precious little creatures, I have never taken the time to educate myself about their habits.

For years we have had a bird house hanging from our front porch roof, and each spring sparrows make a next in the little house, as well as in a small hole below the gutter; I watch as they carefully make their nests, and hear the chirping little ones as the parents rush to and fro to feed them.  

This spring my husband built a new bird house for the opposite side of the porch, which hangs just outside my living room window.  Within a week, two sparrows called the house their own and set about filling it with bits and pieces of twigs and dried grasses.  I watched them carefully, awed by their determination and loyalty as they took turns tending first the eggs, and then the tiny baby birds.  One morning, I saw something hanging from the nest and realized it was a little dead baby -- having lost my own first baby at birth, I cried as I pulled the little body down from the nest.  A couple of days later, I found another little dead baby on the porch floor -- what a sad ending for two such dutiful little parents. And the nest was empty and quiet --

As summer progressed, I no longer checked the birdhouse, not realizing that another little family might be raised during the same season.  Recently I noticed more action around the birdhouse, but didn't really pay too much attention.  Early this afternoon, I heard insistent chirping outside the living room window.  Taking a quick look, I noticed two puffy little sparrow babies perched in the squares of my rose trellis, chirping and looking scared.  In the limbs of the Rose of Sharon close by, were at least four adult sparrows, flitting around, chirping to the babies, nervously watching the little ones and trying to encourage them to spread their wings and leave the trellis.  The fluffy little babies looked a bit bewildered and afraid, but apparently the adults convinced them to try, and they hopped off the trellis to one of the closest limbs.  The adult sparrows flew close to them, in and out of the bushes, until they convinced them to fly on a bit further.  

I was surprised as I watched -- I knew that both parents took care of the babies, but I never knew that other birds were part of this "coming of age" process.  What an amazing sight it was -- these birds flitting nervously about -- and, after the "village" had convinced the little ones to leave the nest and no birds remained on the trellis or in the bushes, I watched as the little mother sparrow took one last lingering look into the doorway, perhaps feeling a bit sad at the prospect of her empty nest --

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