Mindful moments with all the feathered friends and fledglings

So, the nest is empty once again…

I couple weeks ago I shared some photos of the young Eastern phoebes and bluebirds that have been nesting in our yard. Each afternoon we sit on our front porch, avoiding the heat of the afternoon sun, and watch the birds at our feeders and in the woods around the house. It’s simultaneously peaceful and frantic with so many species raising young ones, chattering among themselves, and defending territories. But, it’s also a profound act of mindfulness. You cannot be in the presence of all this bird-ness and be thinking about anything else!

One of the sounds comes from the bluebird box right in the middle of the front yard. The young are growing up fast – their downy fuzz now giving way to pin feathers and primaries, and this week they seemed to be eating nonstop – at least the adults were in and out of the box every few minutes!

Remember these babies from a couple weeks ago?

One afternoon we watched the adults take turns bringing worms and bugs to the box, and each time they approached the nestlings would begin a raucous chorus of “feed me” and the whole nest box would shake.

Adult bluebird brings food to the nestlings…

At one point I watched the male adult land in a tree branch above the box and give a bug to another bird. At first glance in the shade, I thought the recipient was the adult female, but then binoculars revealed it was indeed one of the young. An early fledger!

Fledgling bluebird hanging out on a branch waiting to be fed. It doesn’t look very happy.

I got curious about the others, so I peeked into the box and sure enough there were only three nestlings left – all big and brawny looking, well on their way to adulthood.

Look how big they got! (Bluebirds about to fledge)

Today, I checked the box again, and it’s empty. Brood number two has flown the coop. Best of luck to them all.

Among the other birds, the brown-headed nuthatches are by far the noisiest of the lot. Sometimes there are six at a time chittering and whistling as mom and dad bring the young ones seeds. They never sit still, and even when the young ones do sit, their bodies vibrate and shimmy as they beg for seeds. I can never get a decent photo of them, but I did draw them once.

The titmice are equally chatty, and there’s been one hopping around the yard for over a week now. At first I thought it was a young one, but the more I’ve watched it, I think it is an adult that has lost its tail feathers and it’s right wing and cannot fly, so hopping is its mode of transportation now. It hops around the ground foraging for seeds and then hops up the side of the tree to gain altitude and find a limb to rest on.

Tailless titmouse climbs a tree…

Our feathered entertainers also include white-breasted nuthatches, mourning doves, red-bellied woodpeckers, downy and hairy woodpeckers, Carolina wrens, ruby-throated hummingbirds, Common crows, wood thrushes (in the twilight hours), an occasional mockingbird, and lots of chipping sparrows. It’s an honor to watch them all live their lives among the plants and trees here at Pokeberry Pines. I hope you have feathered friends to help you through your days, too.

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