If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
Mama and Papa Cardinal, I'm happy to report, have succeeded this time around. After losing their first clutch of eggs to whatever lurks in my Lady Banks Rose, they were able to finally not see baby birds hatch from their new nest in the mulberry tree, but grow and fly free.
I knew they were gone as soon as I walked outside yesterday and heard the parents calling from the tangle of trees on the ditch bank between our yard and the fields beyond. Mama was in front, feeding and coaxing the babies to follow. Dad brought up the rear, keeping watch for danger, his red crest raised like a flag of warning.
I braved the thorny vines, holly trees and magnolias to venture nearer, hoping to get a shot of the babies. But every time I got one in focus it would manage a bumbling flight to the next tree. I did learn a bit more about cardinal vocalizations, though. I'm convinced now that this one sharp note the father kept repeating means, "Quiet!" because he had yet to utter it when the babies would all fall silent. As I backed away, the communication began anew.
In other good bird news, the eggs in the shed have hatched an now we have Cup-o-Wrens. The mother is tiny, hyper and very protective of her discarded Pepsi-cup home, so the most I can manage is one shot at a time. But here's the one I shot yesterday, with three eggs hatched and one to go.