The Nest

birds

The photos — clockwise: Cordilleran Flycatcher mama sitting on the nest; Papa bird watching from the tree; Mama taking a break; the eggs in the nest.

So fragile, this nest,
sitting on the electrical box,
barely sheltered from the wind and the rain.

So fragile, these eggs,
life growing within,
nurtured by the warmth
of a mother’s tiny body.

Life begins,
life grows,
life comes forth
from miraculous beginnings.

Shelter these lives,
Great God of Creation,
Source of all that has been,
all that is,
and all that is to come.

Thank you, Creator,
for eyes to see
intricate nests,
tiny birds,
speckled eggs.

We delight in your Creation.

Photos and prayer © Beth A. Richardson

 
 
Find more of my prayers in my book Christ Beside Me, Christ Before Me: Celtic Blessings.

Bird Friends at the Cabin

wren on top of box
Wren on top of wren box

Since late April I have enjoyed keeping an eye on the Cornel Lab of Ornithology’s the live web cam of the nest of a pair of Great Blue Herons. Thousands of us watched the fun as eggs were laid, chicks hatched, parents fed, babies grew and finally fledged in the last couple of weeks. But the live web cam didn’t hold a candle to the bird adventures I witnessed — in person — at our family cabin in Colorado.

At the cabin on the front porch, there’s a wren box that’s been there for years — probably built by Grandpa Tom Wilson. The Rock Wrens were feeding babies. All day long, they were catching and hauling bugs in to feed the babies. Anyone sitting on the front porch could watch the fun. You could hear the chirping of the chicks and when the mom or dad entered the bird box; the whole box rocked back and forth during the feeding. Then there was the singing of the wrens after feeding the babies. I also enjoyed the way the birds clean off their beaks on a branch after feeding the babies. It was wonderful entertainment.

Here’s a parent geting ready to slip into the box with a bug.

wren on the front of the box
Wren heading in to feed babies

One day as I sat on the front porch, I saw the cutest little flycatcher in the tree. (I think it was the Cordilleran Flycatcher, but I’m not sure.) At one point, it got a little bit too close to the wren box and there was a scuffle. Feathers flew all over the porch. I guess they were flycatcher feathers. So the little flycatcher settled into the tree on the other side of the cabin — outside the bathroom window.

I woke up at sunrise one morning and saw the little bird soaking in the early morning sunshine. Here is a photo I took through the bathroom window.

flycatcher
Flycatcher outside the bathroom window

 

The pictures through the glass were a bit fuzzy, so I took the screen out of the window to take a few more pictures. She or he wasn’t concerned about any of it and sat for me through the whole photo shoot.

flycatcher
Flycatcher with no screen or window in the way.

The Broad-tailed Hummingbirds were putting on a show from dawn to dusk. The male bird’s wings make a trilling noise when they fly, so it’s easy to keep up with them. While we were there, the males were courting. They fly straight up to a great height and then make a “U” shape down and up to the same height. The way the cabin sits on the side of the mountain, we were able to watch the mid-point of the display. It was quite impressive.

There was a little branch at the edge of the backyard that hangs out over the canyon. The branch was a favorite perch of the male hummingbird; he was able to keep an eye on his territory. I shot this photo of the hummingbird just as the sun was coming up. He was puffed out against the cool of the morning.

hummingbird
Male hummingbird keeping an eye on his territory

 

I’m thankful for the bird show. Grateful for birds, for the cabin, for the privilege of being there.

A Wren Story

Wren
One of the wrens last winter

Feeding birds is a love I inherited from my parents and grandparents. We love the the birds — and especially the little wrens. They have such spunk, such personality. We wanted to make a home for them, so we bought them a little wren house and put it on the lower deck. Isn’t this a great home for a wren family?

house
The wren box

 
This is their new bird bath — it’s heated. The birds sat around on the edge of the bird bath all winter. I imagined that they were wrapped in little towels pretending they were at the spa.

bird bath
Bird bath (heated)

 
The wrens love the suet. They are so cute when they hang on the feeder.

Suet
Suet feeder

 
We feed, exclusively, hot pepper suet (because the squirrels don’t like hot peppers). We get this at Home Depot.

Hot Pepper suet
Hot pepper suet

 
Check out another new addition — a covered bird feeder. We got this to feed the bluebirds, but the wrens eat there too. (Actually, the bluebirds never came, so the wrens had it all to themselves.

Covered bird feeder
Covered bird feeder

 
Here’s what goes into the covered feeder — mealworms!! (Woo Hoo!!)

Mealworms
Mealworms

 
Yes, these are actually mealworms — here’s the bag they came in. They are dried mealworms, but you can make them look alive by putting oil on them. (Eeew!)

Mealworm bag
Mealworm bag

 
So, it’s the perfect place for a wren family to settle in — Right?

Nesting season came, and there was no wren nest in the box. Not the first week. Not the second week. Not the third week. 😦

I went over to Neighbor Deen’s house — and what did I find? I found my wrens had built next door at Deen’s house.

Nest
The wren's choice for a nest

And not only had they built next door at Neighbor Deen’s house and not at our house. They built their nest on top of a string mop. (Ouch!! Rejection!!) Oh, well. That’s life.

We kept providing them food and water — because we love the birds — even if they rejected our beautiful, perfect little wren house on the lower deck.

After a few weeks, the eggs hatched. The nest fell apart as the little birds grew. Here they are all hunkered down just a couple of days before they fledged. You can see their dark feathers and little yellow beaks.

Baby birds
Baby birds

Thank God for the birds … especially the wrens. Do you have wrens nesting at your house? What’s the secret to becoming a wren landlord?

Forgiven

Bluebird box
Bluebird box

Last week I emptied a chickadee nest out of the bluebird box. And I’ve been feeling terrible about it ever since. Every spring, the cavity-nesting birds stake out potential homes and build nests in them. When I found the chickadee nest in the bluebird house, I did what a bluebird house landlord is supposed to do — empty the box so that a bluebird can build there. But who am I to say who should live there?  I’ve been debating this in my mind every since I dumped out that beautiful nest of grass, fur, and moss.

But today I looked in the box — and there’s a chickadee nest there again. Thank goodness … I feel as though I’ve been forgiven. Grace abounds.

Visit the website of the North American Bluebird Society.