What a difference 24 hours makes, but when you have a mere 21 days from hatch to flight you have to grow very, very fast. This morning the little cardinals are looking more like birds and less like Marvin the Martian. Nearly gone is the spike "hairdo" as the waxy shafts covering the feathers split, allowing them to open.
Father Cardinal expressed great impatience with me this morning. First he flew to the top of the chicken coop and gave me the "evil" eye, so out of respect I took just one shot of his children. As I walked away he flew to the mulberry tree, where he kept watch on me, raising his crest and warning me away with his sharp cry of "chip-chip-chip"!
He should be nicer to me, I think. Nuisance that I am, there's a chance I may end up saving his brood.
The Weather Channel is showing an ominous storm system coming our way, packing winds and toreential rains. So far the nest has held up. I'm hoping for the best, but getting my emergency Baby Bird Rescue Kit ready - just in case.
I've had some experience raising baby birds; I can't count the numbers I've taken in over the years. I primarily have worked with hawks and owls for the last decade, but like most wildlife rehabilitators started with the little guys. Now and again I'll still take songbirds in.
If the nest gets blown down tonight and the babies survive, I'll fashion another nest from a basket, secure it to the crook of the tree and hope that the parents will continue to feed their young. If they don't, I'll finish raising them myself.
But we won't think about that now, will we? For now we'll just prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.