The Birds Outside My Window

During the bird nesting season, our porch rafters are quite a popular place. Last spring, I wrote about the Eastern Phoebes that raised five offspring on our front porch (

Phoebes three days before leaving the nest

Phoebes three days before leaving the nest

This spring, the pair returned to build their nest of mud, lichens, and moss on the same ledge where they successfully raised their offspring last year. Likewise, a pair of Eastern Bluebirds returned to raise another generation in a birdhouse on the front porch. Adding to the menagerie, House Wrens are nesting on the back porch. I find it amazing that some birds choose to raise their young so close to all our comings and goings, not to mention the noise from the lawn mower and weed whacker, and dogs racing around barking at the deer, fox, and other critters that occasionally wander through.

Male Eastern Bluebird watching over the nest

Male Eastern Bluebird watching over the nest

The list of nest predators is a long one: hawks, owls, crows, blue jays, weasels, fox, squirrels, snakes, and cats. In the wild, the odds are stacked against the young nestlings. So, weighing the scales, it would seem the lesser of the two evils to endure the closeness of humans. In any event, it ended well for all the little ones last year. All of the offspring survived to leave the nest and start out life on their own.

But, alas, the nestlings can’t be protected from every predator. Last night while we were watching TV, we heard a loud “thump” out on the porch. When we investigated, we saw that a black snake had knocked down the phoebe nest and was in the process of eating one of the babies(!) My husband relocated the snake to the woods while I inspected the nest, which was, amazingly, still largely in tact. Two babies were under the nest and were still alive, so I scooped up the nest and babies and took them into the house for the night.

By this morning, the babies had died, probably from internal injuries suffered from the fall. I know it’s a part of Nature, but loss of any life makes me sad. I take hope in knowing that in this season of renewal, perhaps the phoebes will try again. I miss the pair’s constant “phoebe, phoebe” back-and-forth calling as they busily went about their parenting responsibilities.

When I bought my farm, I did not know what a bargain I had in the bluebirds, daffodils and thrushes; as little did I know what sublime mornings and sunsets I was buying. Ralph Waldo Emerson


10 thoughts on “The Birds Outside My Window

    • Thanks, Sherri. It’s also a busy time – for me and the birds! Doing a lot of work outside, which gives me plenty of time for watching, but less time for writing!

  1. Oh. So sad. Nature is not always fluffy and cute, that’s for sure. I always hate it when the babies get killed, though. I cover my eyes during those scenes on TV nature shows.

    • I was really bummed this morning, but one of the babies refused to die. By mid-morning, I heard a couple of chirps. One of the babies was still warm so I placed the nest inside a hanging pot of flowers and it looks like the parents are feeding it! Waiting to get a picture so I can do another post.

  2. Oh Jo Ann, what a shame! But, hopefully there’s still enough time left that Mum and Dad can still raise another nest full?

    • I think there’s enough time. Waiting to see if one of the babies that survived the fall and the snake makes it. The parents are attempting to feed it; I’ll keep everyone posted.

  3. It’s a hard thing to watch but that kind of thing goes on constantly, only we don’t see it. You’re lucky to have the bluebirds. I’ve only seen one of them in my lifetime.

    • I read that only about 40% of baby birds survive to fledge. There are so many predators out there that the odds are stacked against them. Yes, we are lucky to have bluebirds. We also have Indigo Buntings, but I haven’t been able to find their nest.

  4. Oh, I hate to see that happen. The same thing happened here, only the predator was a cat and all the babies died. The saddest thing was, the mom and dad kept coming back to our porch for days after. But that’s nature I guess.

    • Cats kill a lot of birds, usually just for sport, which is sad. I guess birds have so many babies because they are so vulnerable to predation.

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