Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Empty Nest

Somewhere in the vicinty of the Lady Banks rose lies a snake with three distinctive, egg-shaped lumps in its midsection.

It was in the middle of the night, I suppose, when it crawled up through the network of branches and flushed the mother bird from her nest. This morning the nest was empty - no eggs, no Mama Cardinal.

Such developments are disappointing. I'd prayed the clutch would hatch safely but there are other creatures with needs. The snake needed the meal as much or more than I needed to see baby cardinals outside my window.

Mama Cardinal will build another nest, hopefully in a spot that's not so snake-accessible, and raise a clutch further from prying eyes. And I shall reflect on the impermanece of things, and just be grateful that - for a few days at least - I had a cardinal nesting outside my window.

8 comments:

prettylady said...

Oh, how sad. Some friends of mine also have a cardinal nesting outside their living room--I shall have to check with them and see if it's faring any better.

I felt rather the same way when the squirrel ate my rosebush. I never even got to see it bloom. Although after the cayenne-dousing, it is putting out some more leaves.

Morgan said...

Hopefully the squirrels will stay away this time. If they get that cayenne in their eyes or nose they're in for an extreme deal of pain.

The wiff of it should be enough to keep them at bay though, hopefully.

Tell your friends I wish them luck with their cardinal. Mama Cardinal was back for a while yesterday, examining her nest and making a sad "chipping" noise.

Poor dear.

Roland said...

Now that stinks.
I read about a nest and then seconds later read about an empty nest.
Makes me wonder, why do we get sad when we see a mother cardinal lose it's young ones and not get sad for the snake when some critter takes it's eggs?
Is it because the cardinals and other birds seem to care more?

Morgan said...

"Makes me wonder, why do we get sad when we see a mother cardinal lose it's young ones and not get sad for the snake when some critter takes it's eggs?"

I think people can relate to the bird, which shows maternal concern for its eggs, and not to the snake which crawls away after laying and never sees its young (except for pythons, which do incubate their eggs).

My first reaction was, "Oh, darn snake." Then I felt kind of silly. The snake didn't weigh the cost to the bird when it came across the eggs. It just saw dinner. We sometimes forget how silly it is to assign human motives to natural actions. But it's eeasy to do that, especially when we're fond of the "victim." :-)

Faithing said...

I have an empty nest today, too. Although it is likely just a run of the mill sparrow. The nest appears to have been attacked and consumed by some animal. Only one hatchling is alive but the mom is not. I have no idea what to do. If I contact the humane society, they will just euthanize it, but I don't expect it to survive without its mother. Morgan, do you have any suggestions?

Morgan said...

faithing,
Try calling the local veterinarians and see if they have a list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators in your area. Most of them keep such a list on hand, especially this time of year.
Sparrows are seed eaters, and if you can't get the bird to someone today, you can get some baby bird food at your local pet store. As for the kind people use to hand raise little parakeets and cockatiels. What you don't use, you can donate to the wildlife volunteer who takes the bird. They'll have plenty of use for it this time of year.
To feed the bird, you can put a little of the mix on the end of a thin spoon handle and gently put it in the back of the throat. There's a hole in the bottom of the bird's mouth, the glottis, where it takes in air. Be sure to put the food behind the glottis, or else you'll aspirate it. Don't worry about water; it will get the mixture from the food.
Good luck and let me know if you have any more questions. It sounds like a cat might have gotten into the nest.

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