The small planter that I have hanging, empty, in my sun room, has squatters. About four inches in diameter, it has been filled with twigs, leaves and other pieces of natural debris, by a female cardinal.
For many years, a wren has 'entertained' menfolk of many varieties, in my sun room. It was quite amusing to see her fly in, call to whomever was interested, and then see a male bird (never a wren) land on the fence, and 'negotiate'. This year, she appeared once and then disappeared once the cardinal had set up home. At the end of last week, the cardinal had laid three eggs!
As the dawn broke on Monday morning, we had our first chick. Quite amazing was the sight, and quite excited were we. We had a baby! As the sunlight started to fade by the end of the day, our first born had a sibling.
Dana was a little concerned as to the delay of the hatching of the third egg, and wondered if we might put some water out for the mother, or maybe some bird seed, but I advised against it, as we did not want to interrupt basic nature. If she had made her nest in the trees behind our home, she would fend for herself quite well He did put up a board on the rafters, however, to protect them from the direct sunlight, and torrential rain that we were about to endure.
The birth of the third chick happened some time during the morning on Tuesday. Samantha and I went for a swim at lunchtime, and espied three tiny bodies in the nest, huddled together, fast asleep. Their little hearts could be seen beating through their thin veined skin, and we hurried inside so as not to upset their mum! By the time we left again, we could hear the faint sound of chirping.
Dana and I were quite conscious of the fact that the mother wanted to spend time with her chicks, as we could see her watching from the safety of the trees at the back of our home, and we changed our way of walking around the ground floor of our condo. I started to prepare dinner in the far corner of the kitchen, and used old plates and utensils from a cupboard that was out of her eyesight. If I needed anything from my 'under the stairs' cupboard, I found myself crouching, and then sliding like a reptile across the floor, so as to avoid her capturing my movement, and flying off.
Watching our newborns had somewhat of a calming effect on the whole household. Samantha would take care when arriving, and opened my back door very carefully, so as not to frighten the mother bird and once the coast was clear, take my small set of 'steps' to take some pictures.
The calming effect had made me quite mellow, which helped as drove across town on Wednesday morning. The little chicks had started to grow feathers, and were now opening their mouths waiting for someone to bring them food.
I left the house and made my way to the highway. There seemed to be some congestion along the road, but I was confident it would clear, as the entryway that I use is often quite crowded, and the traffic starts to move a little quicker as we leave the slip road behind. However, the lady on the radio, in charge of the traffic news, advised me that there was a broken down vehicle, in the left lane, a couple of miles along from where I was now stationery. I had made my way across the the left lane, as my next exit dictates I am in said lane, and I had come to the conclusion, some time ago, that the middle lane was the slowest moving, due it being the 'changeover' lane, receiving those from the left who wished to exit to the right, and those from the right, wishing to travel faster! About twenty minutes later, I had traveled less than half a mile, and the same warning was being given.
The mellow attitude was still quite prevalent as I sat waiting for snails to pass me, as they would be the fastest moving objects on this particular road, and thought of the wonder of nature, and how the birds, like all babies, knew nothing but to ask for food as soon as they were born, and how mothers, especially in the animal kingdom, are the ones to go and collect, feed, and protect. Although I had a schedule this morning, and had to leave Joe by a certain time, in order to get to my nail appointment, I was not perturbed by the amount of time it was taking to travel southward!
"That broken down vehicle is still causing a problem", came the happy voice from the radio. I continued with the 'oh well' attitude and watched the time slip away. I had just reached the next exit along, when the clock struck the half hour. I decided to swap lanes, as the right hand lane was definitely moving a lot faster, and it seemed the logical thing to do, despite my placid temperament. I was now behind a large vehicle and unable to see anything ahead, but we were moving, albeit at less than a snails pace.
I spotted the flashing lights ahead, despite having another mile and a half to go until the famed broken down vehicle. As I wondered whether the happy sounding female on the radio had somehow been mistaken as to the whereabouts of the obstruction, she came back over the airwaves with a new lease of life. "There has been a multi-car pile up just before 35th", she almost squealed, "causing more problems. Oh and the broken down car has been removed". Multi-car pile up? How? We were not going fast enough for a multi-car pile up. Perhaps it was merely a 'fender bender', as it is known here. Perhaps a tap on one bumper to another, but how did they manage to achieve such an epic event! As I passed, I counted seven cars that had been damaged. The first had gone into the second, as the one in front of them had presumably seen an opportunity to change lanes without taking into consideration the space available. The driver has perhaps mistaken his accelerator for his brake and depressed it with force, as the front of the fairly sturdy car was almost flat, and parallel with the steering wheel! The next few cars were jammed together. I sat in wonder at how this had happened, but chose not to dwell upon matters that I could not change!
The remainder of my journey was quite unhindered, and I enjoyed a pleasant chat with Gail, while Joe was repairing a coffee machine.
After my nails had been decorated to a standard good enough for
the Louvre, (in my opinion,) I headed to the radio station to collect this week's prize. I remember when the first 'Now' album was released, and the following few that caused people to ask, by the time it got to number 10, "When will it end?" Winning 'Now 62' caused me to chuckle.
When we returned at lunchtime, the birds were huddled together, and they had developed some more feathers. Their heartbeats were a lot stronger. When I returned in the evening, I noticed that 'dad' was on the scene. He sat watching his children, it appeared, whilst mum went to get some food. I was quite amazed. Although I am quite unfamiliar with the 'life of birds', I had always considered that they were similar to other animals, and let mum 'get on with it''. Dana had asked if I would set up dinner in the living room for our Wednesday night company, so as not to disrupt the efforts of our new mum, with activity around my kitchen table. Once again, I did all my preparations in the corner of the kitchen, venturing to the other cupboards upon the departure of mum.
Wing feathers had developed by Thursday, and 'Huey, Dewey, and Louie', (although not ducks, these three had to have names,) were now sticking their heads up with open beaks, squawking for food. Mum and dad were coming and going at intervals, and once fed, the chicks returned back to huddling together and sleeping until they were hungry again.
Friday morning was a challenge. Samantha arrived and asked if I could 'whip up' a Swiss roll, as she needed to make a 'birthday cake' for her friend, Sandra. "I want to make a caterpillar", she said. I had almost finished my Friday routine, but had waited until she arrived to take care of what I had to do in the dining area, as I knew her arrival would disrupt the birds, and cause mum to fly away. I thought it would be an ideal opportunity to 'finish off'. We gathered what we needed from one end of the kitchen, and huddled together, like Huey, Dewey and Louie, at the other end of the kitchen, and whipped eggs, sugar and flour, into a batter and put it in the oven. She whisked some cream and melted some chocolate. Within thirty minutes, we had a caterpillar, without disturbing the returned nursing mother. I marveled at our ability to create and whilst not
'life changing', it was somewhat of a great feat!
By the time the weekend came around, our babies were quite demanding. Mum had become a little more used to the movement in the house, and would not fly away instantly. I was able to move around my kitchen a little more freely, and she was unperturbed by the dog sitting by the back door, staring up at her. She seemed to sense there was a glass partition between them, as she looked down. Perhaps she could not see through as the sunlight may have caused the reflection on the glass to hide Frank, but he went from sitting to lying and back again without causing a departure. Dad was a little more skittish, and flew away more quickly. However, he would come and sit with 'the boys', (their feathers have not changed colour enough for us to see if they are all boys, but we are generalising!) until mum came back to take over.
Samantha and I waited for mum to leave before venturing out to the car and headed to Costco. I had placed an order of a large number of photographs, just thirty minutes previously, and was not sure if they would be ready by the time we had finished our shopping. However, the lady on duty at the photo department knows us well, as her husband went through the same immigration process, with some time delays, and we had swapped 'war' stories, and given her some advice, which apparently helped. As she spotted us, she called across to say she was 'nearly there'. She handed me a large envelope, which was quite hot, and said, "I recognised the name". I felt quite honoured. So much had me feeling that way, this week.
Dinner on Saturday night was also care of the radio station. I had a voucher for a rather posh cafe, located in the rather trendy Domain, situated towards the northern side of Austin. This was Edward's belated birthday meal, and we met my offspring and her husband at six thirty. Dinner at the Cafe Grand Lux was indeed grand, and luxurious. The portions were enormous and the prices, although higher than our average norm were not outrageous, considering the size of the meals. Individual side salads were enough for four people, and the main courses could have fed my family of birds for several months! It was a very nice experience, and one worth repeating, now knowing how to order!
As we left, and said cheerio to one set of kids, heading home to see
what the other set were up to, we heard the live group playing in 'the square'. "Look at the mandolin player", said Dana as I danced past the musicians. As I looked up, I saw it was one of Joe's friends. I waived subtly, and he nodded and smiled, unable to return the wave as he was playing his instrument quite vigourously. It was all very lovely and gave the evening a Mediterranean feel. All I needed to complete the mirage was a walk along the beach!
The bird family settled down quite early after we had finished in the kitchen. Dad flew off to his supposed temporary bachelor pad, and mum settled in for the night atop the kids.
Sunday morning was rather busy in the sun room. The kids appeared to be very hungry for most of the morning, and mum and dad were taking it in turns to satisfy our children. We sat and watched for a while, climbing over and under furniture, so as not to interrupt the process. I remembered thinking how my life was changed forever when I had my children and how I was now adapting so that this new mum could take care of her children with the least amount of upheaval.
I doubt that it will be too long before Hewy, Dewey and Louie will be learning to fly, and 'fly the nest'. Until then, they are very welcome to stay in their first home, for as long as they would like. I will keep and eye on them, and be a good 'grandmother', and try not to 'interfere'. Perhaps I will be privy to the first flight, but that will have to be seen in ............... another story.