Saturday, May 2, 2009
Signs of Spring, new birth, and hope
Here in Southern California, it is definitely well into spring. My pea plants are flowering and we are already starting to harvest radishes, and it is sunny and warm. (It stops raining here in March.)
A few years ago, the phoebes built a mud nest under the eaves of our house and now every year they come back to raise a couple of broods of babies in it. Phoebes are black and white flycatchers, very common in the suburbs here. They are devoted parents and during the day there is a regular cycle of each parent bringing large and delectable bugs to the peeping babies. The first brood of 2009 is being fed right now. I can occasionally see a bill or a tail of a baby over the edge of the nest. At night, one of the parents wedges itself on the top of the nest to keep them warm. There are at least 2 or 3 fledglings in the nest.
Last year, we were astonished when the nest (about the size of a regular sized teacup) erupted forth with 4 babies! We had the privilege of watching first flight from the nest down to our table where they stayed while the parents continued to feed them. That's what the picture is; notice the baby has its mouth open to be fed! At night, mom and dad herded the babies back up to the nest where they oozed over the edges, being far too big to fit. Each day they flew a little further around the garden, but on the 4th day, they finally flew away.
With all the baby phoebes we have hatched over the years, we have to wonder if we have populated this entire neighborhood with these industrious, unassuming birds. It's sadder to think that some of our babies may not have survived the winter, gentle as it is in southern California. So I'm not thinking about that, but instead wondering how many new birds are behind the peeps that I can hear, and how they manage to eat those enormous bugs that mom and dad bring them, and whether BP and I will be lucky enough see that first hopeful, clumsy flight when they finally emerge from the nest.