The Cruelty

As I walked up to the house this morning, returning from the park with my dog, five crows were making a ruckus on the roof of our porch. I stopped to watch because they were making quite a spectacle of themselves and I wondered what was going on.

One of the crows looked young, not so much in size, but in plumage. His feathers were a lighter color than the others’ midnight black bodies. I saw him open his mouth and take some food from another, confirming my suspicions that this was a recently fledged crow.

Finished with the crows, I decided to walk around the porch and have a peek at four baby Red-breasted Nuthatches that haven’t yet fledged. They were born little more than a week ago in a nest their mama built in one of my hanging baskets.

red breasted nuthatch_Seattle Audobon Society
Graphic snipped from an online identification guide to area birds, published by the Seattle Audubon Society. seattleaudubon.org

This is the second year in a row we’ve hosted a nest of theirs. It’s rewarding to watch them grow and change each day, from brown speckled eggs to a nest full of fluff.

The last time I checked on the babies was yesterday. Here they were.

baby birds 1

I never looked long. The mother was always close by, often in the hedge that runs alongside our driveway. She struck up her warning call every time I went near. A steady-paced anck-anck-anck.

The next picture shows them shortly after hatching, just five days ago. When I moved my hand in the air across the top of their nest, they’d open their mouths wide, drawn by the change in light perhaps. They expected their mother and a meal.

baby birds 2

And here is my first picture, when they were still forming in their eggs. I discovered their nest when I was watering the flowers. Mama bird flew out, sounding the alarm. I stopped my watering.

baby birds 3
One egg is hiding behind the moss. There were four in total.

By now, you’ve probably caught onto what happened.

The crows ate my birds.

As I walked around the porch and began to climb the small step stool I kept under the hanging basket, I noticed the nest on its side, clinging to the edge. It was empty. My birds were gone.

Damn crows.

The mama bird was still in the hedge sounding her alarm, but I suspect she already knew. I feel heartbroken.

 

 

 

 

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