Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mama's Day

My love of birds is no secret to anyone who's ever known me, even for a short time. I've even written several posts about them:  here, here, and here.

I think it all started about twenty years ago when I brought home my first pet cockatiel, Gracie.  Gracie LOVED people, had so much spunk and curiosity, and taught me that birds most DEFINITELY possess distinct, hilarious personalities.  We've owned a handful of birds since Gracie, all with varying quirky character traits.  I've loved them all.

Caring for my avian pets has also opened my eyes to the amazing wild bird population just outside my back door.  I can watch my feeder for hours, observing all the quirks and silliness of a male sparrow courting a female, or the downy-headed woodpecker who arrives each day, always landing on the same deck rail.  He looks around, makes sure the coast is clear, then slowly, hopping, ascends the rail and digs into the hanging suet feeder.  I just love it!

So imagine my supreme glee last April when we began to notice a nest beginning to form atop the hanging wreath on our front door.  We soon learned it belonged to a beautiful robin, and I banished everyone in the house from using the door until she had successfully finished the nest, hatched her babies, and sent them on their way, however long that took.  Trixie was not pleased!

But it soon became clear that our little Robin mama was perhaps a bit young and inexperienced.  Her nest wasn't very solidly built, and it eventually tipped forward, dropping and breaking one of the two eggs inside.  She gave up on the other, and we didn't see her again.  I was terribly disappointed.

Then, this past April, I again noticed the familiar sticks, straw and mud appearing on our front door wreath.  I was estatic!!  I searched online and learned that robins often return to the same spot to nest each year.  Our mommy had come back to give it another shot!!  She had definitely matured, too.  The nest she constructed this time was strong and secure, and soon we saw her perched on her new home, producing bright blue eggs.

But a few days later, she was gone from the nest. We'd see her in the small tree in the yard, LOOKING at it, but never ON it.  I wanted to tell her, "I don't think you're doing it right!"

When a few more days went by with this same bizarre behavior, Alan removed the wreath and looked in the nest.  Where there had once been three eggs, now only one remained.  Something had gotten to them.  Mommy was afraid, that's why she hadn't been back.  She had pushed the last remaining egg deep down in the straw at the bottom of the nest, clearly hiding it from the predator that had taken the others.  My heart ached for her.  Still, she wouldn't leave her post in that tree, guarding her nest from afar.

We left for the weekend for Alan's family reunion.  While there, I approached Alan's Uncle Paul, a farmer by trade, and a wealth of knowledge when discussing wildlife.  I explained our "bird mama dilemma."  Uncle Paul agreed that there must have been an attack of some kind and that the mama bird was probably traumatized.  He said that there was nothing we could do, and suggested we clean the nest off our door when we got home, "before it starts to stink."  I felt a little like crying.

Except that when we arrived home, there she sat, cool as a cucumber, atop her nest once more!  I danced a celebratory jig!  Alan gently warned me against getting too excited.  "She was gone a long time, those eggs might not even hatch," he said.  I tried not to think about it.

An online search once again revealed that robins usually lay four eggs.  That meant there was a possibility that two still lay beneath our little mama.  Also, the site said, the mother sits on the eggs for ten to fourteen days before they hatch. HOW was I going to stand the wait?

It was a long two weeks, let me tell you.  We suffered through an unseasonably cold snap where the nighttime temperatures bordered on freezing.  Then the winds picked up with a fierce vengeance, rattling the windows and bending the large trees outside.  I'd lay in bed and think about that tiny nest, praying everything inside it would survive.

Mama hardly ever left.  I'd walk to the end of the driveway to retrieve the mail, or water the plants near the front porch and gently talk to her, wishing I had Dr. Doolittle's gifts. She'd eye me warily, then get back to sitting.

Two weeks came and went, and there she sat, no change.  By the end of the third week, I was beginning to think Alan may have been right.  But why was that mama still sitting there?

I couldn't stop thinking about her.  There she was, stubbornly perched on two perfect, beautiful blue eggs that were never going to hatch.  So, so sad.  As I watered my plants a few mornings ago, I looked up at her exhausted, worn-out face and gently said, "It's ok.  You did your best.  You can go."  She blinked her eyes slowly at me and hunkered down.

I already knew I was going to write a post about her.  I had actually composed several sentences in my head, sentences about knowing when to give up.  I was going to write about how being stubborn and refusing to accept change can be a very tragic thing, indeed.

Then this afternoon, I arrived home to see THIS:
Two bald, frail, ugly, GORGEOUS babies!  She did it!  She withstood freezing temps, gusty winds, winged predators, and a bunch of experts who all predicted she would fail, and she DID it!!

So my dear readers and fellow bloggers, thanks to this little six-ounce, orange and black soldier, my post today is not at all about giving up.  It's about persistence. It's about following your instincts and doing what you know is right, even when everyone else tells you you're wrong. Or crazy.

Maybe there's some job you're trying to complete, some impossible task that everyone says is hopeless.  Maybe nice, well-intentioned friends and family are urging you to just give up.  Maybe they're right.  But if you asked a very busy mama feeding her babies on my front door what to do, guess what SHE'D say?

Thanks for Reading!!

39 comments:

Melissa said...

Oh! I'm a little weepy.

"It's ok. You did your best. You can go." She blinked her eyes slowly at me and hunkered down.

I'm so glad this story ended this way. Good girl, Mama. Congratulations on your babies.


Great post. I'm new to your blog, and this certainly makes me want to come back.

elsiee said...

How very very touching and exciting I LOVE happy endings and am always a little shocked to get them where nature is concerned! Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful tale with use!

Writing Without Periods! said...

Great post. Very emotional. I love stuff like this.
Mary

Momma Fargo said...

Way awesome! I love birds, too. They fascinate me and I could watch them for hours. Love their different songs. Your pics are great!

Mumsy said...

What an awesome post. I love it!!! The way you have used the keyboard to form words and share your experience with that sweet mama robin is just beyond words to describe.

I love birds and this has to be the best thing I have ever read in my whole life about a bird. The pictures are wonderful. Love this so much and bless you for hanging in there with mama robin. Hugs

Julie said...

That was a fabulous story....loved every word, sitting here with my chin in my hand and my eyes inches from the screen...what a wonderful message for today. Thank-you SO much for sharing this!

Sweet Angel said...

It's awesome what we can learn from these precious creatures.

Thank you for sharing that.

We live in a Zoo! said...

='} Wonderful post! So well written nearly bringing me to tears, thanks ;D

lori said...

Oh, this was such a precious story! I have a thing for birds too. This was something I needed to hear today. Thanks so much.

Teresa Evangeline said...

Absolutely beautiful story. Cannot tell you how meaningful this is to me today. Second blog today on birds and their blue eggs in nests, with photos. A wonderful synchronicity. The closing paragraph is perfect.

Frances said...

What a wonderful post and a wonderful story. We have doves that come to nest on our balcony every year. Sometimes the nest is in a potted plant and sometimes it is in our Norfolk Pine, but we have had many baby hatched on our balcony. We love watching them!

Sylvia K said...

This is so great! What a beautiful post and such a great message! If that little Mama Bird can tough things out, surely I can do the same when I hit one of those spots. Thanks for sharing!

Sylvia

Feeling Just Right said...

Joan, you are my star! I love you! Beautiful pictures and awe-inspiring writing! :)

RawknRobynsGoneBlogWild said...

For obvious reasons, that's my favorite bird. Poor thing doesn't know how to spell his name correctly, though. Oh well.
Great post.
xoRobyn

KathyB said...

You wrote about this so beautifully! So very happy for this wonderful event turning out as it did. Yay momma Robin! yay babies!

PinkPatentMaryJanes said...

Oh, that's just lovely!

ReformingGeek said...

I loved this post. I was weepy, too, but I'm happy for that poor mama bird.

Bossy Betty said...

Well, if you've been following my blog lately, you can imagine how this reduced me. Totally reduced me!!!

Cheeseboy said...

This story is absolutely inspiring! Never give up. Never, ever give up.

Lee said...

love the full story, Joan! Look forward to hearing how they fare!

SonyaAnn said...

What a wonderful story! Thank you so much for sharing your story and pictures. I feel inspired! Even though I'm off to clean, I hope the feeling will continue while I scrub.;)

Icy BC said...

Oh this is a beautiful post on being persistence, patience, and devotion on both your part and the mama bird's part! Gorgeous pictures too!

seaangel223 said...

Such a beautiful story of how amazing God is! The story of this persistent little mama has really encouraged me at a time when I need it most. Thanks Joan!

Betty Manousos:cutand-dry.blogspot.com said...

Inspiring and touching post!
Love it!
Love the pictures as well. So pretty and delicate!
Hope you're having a fantastic day!
B xx

yonca said...

What a beautiful story and beautiful pics!Very inspiring post.

Looking for Blue Sky said...

Such a lovely story and gorgeous pictures too :) I don't know anyone else who writes about the stuff that you do, just love it x

Langdowns said...

That is freakin awesome!!! What a great post. So inspirational! A forever story ...

Taylor-Made Wife said...

h, I just loved this post. Brought tears to my eyes

Joanie M said...

We had a budgiebriar (blue parakeet)named Lizzy who used to bob around and dance whenever I put my aerobics tapes on! It was too funny!

Joanie M said...

Ok, I just went back and really read your story. that was great!!!

Stacie said...

Fantastic post, thanks for sharing! I'm so glad it was a happy ending, it definitely brightened my day!

Kakka said...

God I am a sook, I am crying tears of joy for the little Robin mother - my heart is touched by her journey, I hope her little ones continue to thrive. Thanks so much for sharing this inspiring story - and how lovely that she will most likely be back every year to share her family with you. xxx

Red Shoes said...

Hi, Joan... what a great story... this reminds me of mid-August, 2005... my office at Alluvial Flood Plain State University is on the 2nd floor... and right outside my office window is a tree... and this one day I noticed a dove's nest in it... if you aren't familiar with their nests, they are VERY small...VERY frail... towards the end of August, the eggs had hatched and I got to see these three little heads bobbing out of the nest... and then THAT weekend came... the one where Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast.. the wind was already bad before the storm ever got here... and I was concerned about how the parent was going to take care of the nestlings... that Monday night, it got SO bad outside... torrential rains... really bad winds... I was so sad... I new that when I came into work the next morning, the nest and the babies would be gone...

When I got into the office and looked, there they ALL were!!! A parent was on TOP of the nest... it had survived... I got to really looking... and I could tell that the parent had run his/her feet THROUGH the nest... and he/she was securing the nest to the limb by its OWN strength!!!

What an instinct for survival!! Oh, by the way, you do know that doves are monogamous don't you? Both birds tend the nest...

Thanks for posting about the Mother Robin!!!

~shoes~

Daisymum said...

Are you sure no one came up to the door not knowing they were there? I would put up a sign so that if people approched your house they would be forwarned. You never know? I miss you!

[Rhiannon][Wretchdz] said...

How beautiful!

That song Rockin Robin is in my head now.

Krista said...

Aw... this is SO sweet! I'm very happy that mama persevered!

2 kids...3 martinis said...

Adorable! Love this post!!!

Shan said...

I'm passing this one on to my husband!

Erin said...

pretty much everyone I know has said, "If I were you, I would have just broken my contract in Singapore and gone home."

I'm glad I'm like the mama bird. The benefits are starting to show : )

Thanks for another inspiring blog, Joan.

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