For weeks I have watched the chickadee mom and dad fly in and out of the birdhouse just outside the window next to the computer. Birds and nests and eggs are fascinating evidence of God’s creativity–how they painstakingly build a home, sit on eggs (how did he think of this device for nurture) and how those ugly hatchlings turn into soft, ornately colored soaring birds. On Monday we noticed the chickadee hadn’t been back all day. Somehow we missed the fledging of the chicks.
Bug and I did some research. We found a website where a dad risked the dive bombing attacks of the father chickadee and took daily pictures of a chickadees’ nest and the development of the chicks. These little darlings grow fast, ready to fly away in 12-14 days. And chickadees apparently nest early and only once, so some sparrows had been fluttering around our birdhouse, considering it as a home but never going in. Maybe it still smelled too much like chickadees?
In one of those I-will-live- in-the-present-and-be-a-good-mom moments, I suggested to Bug that we open up the birdhouse and examine the nest. I ignored the images in my head of bird nest strung around the house and proceeded. Unlike the photo blog guy, the roof our birdhouse would not easily come off. Bug ran and got a screw driver. I glanced at the clock. Good mom time was over. Dinner needed to be made. I let Bug struggle with the old screws alone.
In passing my determined Bug and her screwdriver, she asked, why does it stink? Pausing, I suggested that one of the eggs hadn’t hatched and was now rotten? She accepted my answer because she still thinks I am very smart. While I was cooking the phone rang. Bug got one screw loose. She started on the second. I chatted on the phone, cooked and chopped. Chatted, cooked, chopped. Bug shrieked. I shut off the burner and got off the phone.
She had succeeded in opening the birdhouse. The nest of moss and hair and feathers looked just like the one in the picture. The trouble? Inside were five rotting chicks, about 12 days old according to the photos. They were covered with pin feathers and arranged, like the blog said, with tails to the center so that they all fit. And there were feasting bugs too.
|This picture, and the one of the nest above, are from
the photo journal of the chickadee chicks we found. The picture above
shows chicks at day 12, about the age of the ones we discovered.
Our nature lesson turned tragic. And my moment of patting myself on the back faded when I left my girl to discover the dead chicks alone. Still, Bug and I, we have that memory of exploring our little yard and learning a tough lesson. And even though dead chicks make little girls sad, the the nest, the bugs, the pinfeathers, still spoke of the grand schemes of our creator. And both of us couldn’t stop staring at the wonder. (The maggots were gross but we had a great conversation about how God created a cleaning system for nature).
We brainstormed possibilities. I had seen a sparrow trying to get in days before. Would a sparrow kill the chicks? Or, this birdhouse has a metal roof. It sits mostly in the shade, though the sun shines on it for about 1.5 hours starting about 4 pm. Could the recent 90-degree temperatures on that metal roof have fried the chicks? We aren’t sure. But we will be getting a new birdhouse.
Writing about this God Bump to record this sacred moment for my girl and joining others doing the same at Getting Down with Jesus.
If you would like to see the photo journal we found, click here.