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