This has been such a difficult year for bird raising. We were excited to see the new ones poking their little heads out of the nest for the first time on Friday. Last night, we sat outside and watched the mom and dad birds flying in and out, feeding them. It’s wonderful to watch.
Then this morning, I got up and went to check on them – it’s the first thing I do now, even before starting the coffee and feeding the cats (which doesn’t make the cats happy). And there was a dead chick on the patio under the nest! Damn it. Mom was sitting right beside the nest, looking sad. At first I couldn’t see any of the babies and thought something had gotten them all again. But then I saw two poke their heads up, so maybe – God, I hope – they’re okay.
I went out and scooped up the poor little body and wrapped it up and put it in a little box, and will bury it in a few hours when the sun goes to the other side of the house. It was perfectly formed and I didn’t see any wounds, so I don’t know what happened to it, whether it somehow jumped out and broke its neck when it landed, or whether it died in the nest and the mom bird somehow got it out. I’m so sad for it and for the sweet mom and dad who work so very hard to try to take care of their babies – and now this.
For two years in a row, we thought raising swallows was easy. We got two broods a year, they hatched and fledged without any casualties, and I guess we were spoiled. Now we’re getting a taste of the real world and how brutal it can be for tiny creatures. I’m just so glad we still have the other two, but now afraid of something happening to them, too.
When they come to live on our property, they become "ours" in the sense that we feel responsible for their well being in the same way we feel responsible for our cats. It’s such a privilege and honor to have them share their little lives with us so intimately. But when something happens to them, it’s like losing a little member of the family.