There are Babies at our House!

What a welcome surprise to have babies at our house!

When we returned from the cottage after the May long weekend, we noticed that the landscaper had trimmed some of the shrubs.  One large shrub outside our bedroom window had a knob of branches and leaves on top.  I wondered how this spot could have been missed when the rest of the shrub was carefully shaped. Upon closer inspection I noticed a small bird’s nest snuggled into this spot.

Intrigued, I got my kitchen stool to climb and have a better view of  the nest.  Soon enough, a female cardinal arrived and snuggled herself into the nest. How exciting! I got my camera to capture her sitting on the nest.

Mother Cardinal on her nest
Mother Cardinal on her nest

The next morning, when the cardinal left her nest, I removed the window screen and climbed onto the window sill to see into the nest. It contained three small greyish-white speckled eggs.  As I snapped pictures, the mother hovered on the eavestroughs watching carefully.  When I retreated, she came back immediately, checked the eggs, and settled herself back on the nest.

Three eggs in nest
Three eggs in nest

Day after day she sat on the eggs leaving only for short breaks.  Occasionally her beautiful male partner arrived with a food offering for her.  My husband referred to this as bringing groceries! Usually he perched himself on the fence to keep watch.

Male on fence keeping watch over his territory
Male on fence keeping watch over his territory

The female occasionally called to him and he would come with an offering of food for her.

Female cardinal calling her mate
Female cardinal calling her mate

Neither my husband nor I knew anything about the incubation period for cardinals but google told us it would be 11 – 13 days.  Last Saturday morning we were awakened by activity at the nest.  The female was pecking at the eggs.  When she left the nest, I got back on the window sill to take a look.  Instead of eggs, I was delighted to see a mound of moving brown and orange fuzz in the nest. As soon as I left the window sill, the mother appeared and quickly sat down on the babies to keep them warm.

Within a day, we could see beaks and watched as both the mother and father took turns poking food into their mouths.  Amazingly, the babies were quiet.  The mother spent more time away from the next but continued to sit on the nest for long periods of time keeping the babies warm.

Growth was rapid.  In the first days, the babies looked like blobs of fur.

Tiny babies
Tiny babies looking like blobs of fur

Soon they grew enough to hold their beaks above the top of the nest.

3 Babies Vying for food
3 Babies Vying for food

It’s been great fun to watch the cardinals parent the hungry babies.  Both parents are busy feeding through the day.  They arrive with worms sticking in their beaks.  The babies greedily compete for food offerings by clumsily pushing siblings away. Sometimes only one baby’s beak surfaces as the other two are pushed upside down in the nest.

We’re at our cottage for a few days as I write this post.  Most likely, the babies will have left the nest when we return home. From what I’ve learned on the internet, they don’t usually nest again in the same spot.  Too bad — I can only hope they will choose another shrub or bush nearby as watching their daily family rituals has been quite enchanting.

If you’re intrigued with cardinals, here’s an interesting link for more information about their habits! www.thecardinalexperience.com/bird%20facts.php

6 Replies to “There are Babies at our House!”

  1. Beautiful photos Jeanette! We were fortunate a few years ago to have mourning doves nest within sight. So wonderful when our homes are homes to others. Except maybe that time we had groundhogs…

    1. Oh dear — groundhogs would be a problem. Today I noticed that a family of rabbits is feasting on my herbs. I knew I should have made tabbouli last week with that abundant crop of parsley. I hope they enjoyed the feast.

  2. Loved this essay about your cardinals! Your photos are wonderful and the description of the progress of the baby birds and parents is so evocative that I can picture them all in my mind. It’s good to be reminded that spring and summer are the time of rebirth and new birth and that no matter what may be going on in the world, that the Creation is alive and well. Thank you!

    Rin

  3. We have several cardinals that frequent our bird feeder. Our next door neighbor has an outdoor patio with a wreath just wide enough to accommodate a small bird nest. This is the second season a mated cardinal pair has built a nest within this wreath. We’ve observed the parents and seen the eggs hatch, but have never witnessed the moment of fledgling when the baby birds leave the nest. PS: Thanks for the link to the article “Cardinal Bird Facts” which contains some really great information for bird lovers.

    1. I’ve never taken enough time to really observe birds. These cardinals brought magic to mornings as I watched them create a family and nurture the babies. Sometimes we forget that gifts come in special ways.
      Be well,
      Jeanette

      1. As we watched this small ‘family’ we were certainly reminded of the miracle of life — giving life, nurturing babies, caring for the young and, now, letting go. We came home last night to find an empty nest!
        Be well,
        Jeanette

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