Sunday, May 16, 2010

Such a Sad but Essential Reminder

I thought I noticed some extra sounds of avian joy being expressed when I pulled Tillie into my parking spot, the place I call home while in IL. Exuberant chirps and peeps—I thought to welcome me back after my 2 weeks in the south. But no, it was the announcement that our neighborhood had expanded. The nest perched under the eave of the house next to Tillie has a baby bird. But, although I noticed, I didn’t interpret the sounds of joy.

Robin-mom had selected a safe and secluded spot to build her nest, carefully selecting the right materials and arranging them just so. When I left her patiently nesting 2 weeks ago I thought about snapping a pix from the vantage point Tillie’s roof would have offered, just a few feet from the nursery but didn’t want to disturb her. And I confess to forgetting about her.

Alas, in the couple hours since I’ve been back, tragedy struck for this newly-expanded robin family. Allegedly, an owl swooped in, knocking the nest to the ledge below, and the untested wings of this little baby were useless. I heard the commotion, likely the mother fending off the much larger predator; feathered spectators sounded the alarm, but I was too late.(Click for more pix)

When I stepped out my door to investigate, I looked up. The owl stared down at me from the edge of the roof, surprised, probably disappointed, and swept away, without his meal. I stood there impotent.
One glance at the blood on the pavement confirmed the dire turn of events from seconds before. I helplessly watched this baby bird take its last breaths. Oh how sad. How powerless I felt. Frustrated chirps of bird-friends bemoaned the loss of this newcomer to our neighborhood, patiently nurtured from egg to hatchling and now life steadily and mercifully slipped away.

I sat and stared at this tiny creature for a while, surprised at how affected I was by this playing out of Mother Nature’s ways. It happens all the time, but not in my neighborhood. And I know nature will take its course. I’ll look up and the tiny bare little baby will be gone, feeding this hungry owl or any of the other nocturnal critters that about in this bucolic setting. The nest and the splotch of blood will remain until tonight’s wind and rain remove even those traces. The mother, I don’t know her, just an anonymous robin. I don’t know how birds mourn their losses, if she’ll have another. The owl, I can’t begrudge his action, though I don’t appreciate it happening on my watch.

And I could not help but make the leap from what I’ve witnessed to what I know happens every day, everywhere.

My world has lots of nests—and mothers I know nurture their young, with great hopes that young ones sprout wings. Predators a plenty, protections so few out here in the cruel world…. This scene plays out all the time, with greater consequences and probably more frequently than I would care to know.

May someone be there to help, to fend off attackers whenever possible, to comfort those left behind, or to bear witness, so the loss doesn’t go unnoticed. May we be touched by little losses, our hearts kept alive by our connection to all things living, no matter how small, how different.