Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Baby Birds in Our Fuchsia Basket

Despite our finest efforts, a mama finch laid four eggs in a nest she built in one of Jackie's hanging fuchsia baskets out on the front porch. Honoring her diligence and tenacity, we decided to water around the little nest, making sure the eggs weren't swamped or harmed. About a week ago four naked baby birds hatched.

Mom and Pop birds stay very busy bringing them food; Jackie and I drop ice cubes into the fuchsia basket (far away from the nest) to keep the fuchsia as happy as we can under the circumstances. The chicks are now fully feathered and twice their original size. They sleep non-stop unless the basket moves -- then they watch to see if it's mom or pop bird or Jackie or me. If they see a human, they stay quiet. If it's a bird, they open their beaks and beg. They all look well-fed and healthy.

This morning Ashley (one of my cats) was spotted sitting on the ledge below the basket/nest as parent birds chirped and flitted wildly, having a general conniption fit over the proximity of the I.Q.-of-a-doughnut intruder. (Ashley is lovely but missing marbles.)

When Jackie heard what was going on, she very uncharacteristically screamed, hollered and bolted onto the front porch, banging a pan, scaring poor, curious Ashley into the next county so he won't even think about coming back to the vicinity of the front porch. (Ashley is so sensitive that it probably worked, but just in case it didn't, we put a baby gate across the opening to the front porch and lots of scary-looking things on the railing below it. I haven't seen Ashley in the front again, so I hope it works.)

When I think the birds are ready to venture out, both kitties will be sequestered inside the house until we're sure the wee ones have learned how to fly. Don't worry! The wildlife in our proximity gets as much respect as any of our pets do. We even plant extra vegetables so the critters can have some, too.

The cats bring me dead baby shrews and field mice almost nightly, so they're doing their anti-rodent duties for the most part. We had to hire a mole catcher for the mole that was tearing up the lawn, though. I don't know if the cats are too timid to tackle a critter that large, or if moles just can't be caught by anything less than a mole trapper. I think it's the latter. I had a cat once who brought me a half-grown hare, completely unharmed. Kitty was so confused, and probably hurt, when I turned, carried the bunny back into the woods, and turned it loose. She must have thought I was crazy or, at the very least, ungrateful. Indeed I was grateful -- grateful she hadn't hurt the poor, scared thing!

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