Friday, May 25, 2007

Empty Nest Syndrome

I remember seeing the two of them in our backyard a lot. They seemed VERY interested in the green hanging planter and I pinned all my hopes of a nest on making sure they wanted to come back. I put birdseed in the planter and scattered it in the backyard.

And so, at the beginning of April, the birds moved in.

They built their nest and I tried to help by placing pieces of yarn and string around on the lattice so their nest would have some beautiful bright colors in it and then I could feel like I helped with the beginning of this family. (And making it obvious to all of my readers that I really can't leave well enough alone.)

We kept an eye on things and only a few days later, eggs! Our Mourning Doves were a Mommy and Daddy Bird now!

We watched that hanging planter every moment we were in our kitchen. We tiptoed in the backyard, we took pictures from a distance began the 2 week countdown till we had babies in our backyard.

It was very early on a Sunday morning when I was leaving for church when it looked like the Mama Bird was sitting differently on the nest. I couldn't tell what was going on but left a note for David to try to peek in if Mama moved.

When we finally got to peek in, our breath was taken away...beautiful, tiny, no longer than 2 inches. Eyes sealed shut and moving very little but they had each other. And they had us to watch. And they had a VERY nervous mother watching us from a nearby tree branch.

We took pictures every day. We watched these two birds grow over the next few weeks in amazement of how from one day to the next they might look exactly the same and then two days later, they look like totally different birds.

One day old.

Six days old.

*Insert Crazy Lady Messing With Mother Nature Story Here*

One week old.

Ten days old.

There was less and less room in the nest. The Mama bird had long been kicked out not unlike when a Toddler has made himself at home in Mommy and Daddy's bed. We could tell the birds were getting ready to fly. They would spend all day stretching their wings and looking around. And it seemed the mom and dad were taking short flights from the planter to the fence and back or from the barbecue to the ground. We came home from running errands one day and didn't see babies in their nest but instead on David's barbecue. You can also mark this as the day that David decided to buy new BBQ tongs.

The next week was like a game of hide and seek. The baby birds were hardly ever in their nest and could be seen on the kids' playhouse, in the "grass" or on the barbecue. We didn't go out in the backyard for fear of scaring the birds and also because you REALLY had to be careful where you stepped or you'd bring a little piece of the birds back inside the house with you.

One day we couldn't find them. I looked all over and in all the small spots they could have squeezed but no baby birds anywhere. We had a long (well kind of long) talk with the kids about how baby birds fly away and ours had gone off to be big boy and big girl birds somewhere else. As the Mama and Daddy birds hung out in the backyard, even they seemed like they couldn't find their babies.

The next morning, the babies were back in the yard. And we think they got busted for breaking curfew because they stayed in the backyard the whole day. Daddy Bird did too.

After about 2 weeks of nurturing, observing and poop-dodging, we went on vacation. The baby birds seemed to only sleep in the yard and Mama and Daddy were not around a whole lot either. We knew that when we got home, everyone would be gone.

The green hanging planter is outside my kitchen window and I find that every time I wash my hands, do the dishes, walk outside to the garage, I look to check on the babies but they aren't there. I can see the sticks from their nest and on occasion I find their feathers in the kids' playhouse. And I miss them. A lot. The little burst of life that caught the attention of my whole family has left to possibly bring the same sort of joy to another family.

I just hope that family doesn't leave their barbecue tongs out.

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