Friday, July 18, 2008

Day 14

The yard is full of jays.
I could hear them outside on this hot, steamy morning, coming closer and closer--even through closed windows, as the air conditioner drones noisily behind the house.
They're everywhere.
Swooping down into the highest branches, and searching along each one.
Even the maple tree.

Where is Mama?
They've come too close.
And I cannot scare them away.

The nest is empty.
I still have not seen Mama.

I'm not yet ready to be forgiving of bluejays,
but some helpful follow-up reading can be found here.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


KGMom said...

Oh, no.
Do you mean what I think you mean?
I hope not.
Can't handle such bad news.

Gary said...

This is awful. Such a sad tale, but nature is nature and the Jays instinct is strong despite our feelings.
The parents will recover and life will go on as it does for all of us.
Still, very sad news.


NCmountainwoman said...

I read the article and it helped, but only a little. But I know this is worse for you than for us, and we share your pain in the loss.

I recall something our dog breeder said when he lost his favorite dog,
"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

Your hummingbird journal brought us many smiles and we are smiling still because it happened.

Beverly said...

Wow, what a lovely thing to say, NCmountainwoman ...and it's true, Nina; you bring so many smiles.

Thanks too, for the article...I'd not seen it before.

who's going to remember that:
"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

nina said...

Thanks all, and ncmountainwoman for the very true thought.

I was honored to have her here--such a gift comes once in a life time.

The nest sits empty on the branch.
I had wondered if she might build again on top, as sometimes is the case. Another year.
But, having had the day to think, I've decided to take it down.

That spot was wonderful for me--standing openly right in the middle of the yard, but terrible for her.
She would do better to hide it well away.

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

The ways of nature sometimes leave us feeling bereft. This is one of those times. Thanks for sharing the story with us, Nina.

Pam said...

Such an interesting post Nina. I have more time for Nature and her order than that of man (or are we included in this). I think there are predator nations and individuals who do not have survival as an excuse.Give me Nature any day. On a lighter note, in the article, I missread "farm-boy" as "in his early years the fat boy turned author". Thought "that can't be right".

Old Wom Tigley said...

This is nature.... I have seen it many many times before, it dose not make it any easier to take.. mama bird will now get on with another brood if she as time... and the young bluejays will have been fed. Cruel only to us humans but all part of the circle.


bobbie said...

Yes, it was better to take it down. It is sad, but as the article says, it makes sense. We don't like to think of losing eggs or birds, but it does make sense. We have to think instead of the future.

nina said...

Mama came by the feeders last evening--still sits on lookout watching. I wonder what is in her mind. Did she see the jays rob her nest, or was her back turned?
I doubt she has time to raise another brood this year--they have to be such accomplished flyers to migrate to Mexico--I think there is not time.

What saddens me most is the thought of her time invested, now a loss. Nest-building, then 16 days sitting on eggs, 14 days feeding young--and at 10 days to fledge, they're taken!

My heart is crying hummingbird tears.

Anonymous said...

"Nature red in tooth and claw".

While I'm sorry for your hummers, I delight in the Blue Jays. Just as your hummingbird struggled to raise it's family so did the Blue Jays. I've long been a fan of predators, and wonder why we vilify them so, as they are all part of this patchwork of natural order.

I marveled at the (il)logic of a friend who spoke with pride when he killed a shrike that had been hunting at his feeder. The shrike was no less beautiful than the countless Purple Finches he was protecting them from, and significantly rarer. I sure missed it coming to my feeder later.

Still, I know you're missing the nest. It was a marvel.

Anonymous said...

Sad news, but it is all about natural selection. It still does not make the event any less saddening.

Beverly said...

Ohmygawd! Really…killed a Shrike? Okay, I’m a new birder and not long ago, while out birding with more experienced folks, I mentioned how much I’d like to see a Shrike. Like you, I enjoy predators. Not twenty minutes later I watched one pluck a grasshopper it had hung on a branch just for a moment like this, and fed it to its mate. Wow, what a delight to witness; perhaps part of a bonding ritual at the beginning of the nesting season…

Killing Shrikes for hunting Finches, killing Hawks for hunting pet Pigeons (as a whole bunch of Roller Pigeon breeders apparently do), or killing 11 (eleven!) mountain lions the first season you move to a remote area to raise goats (a neighbor did this)…none of it makes a lick of sense to me.

True, I keep feeders too and while I hate to loose a bird I think it’s a gift on the rare occasion I see a raptor attack.

I think we have a responsibility to care for our ‘pets’; keep feeders and bird baths near cover, keep livestock guardian dogs around a ranch…what ever it takes to sort of mitigate the fact that it is ourselves who are bringing the predators in by ‘massing’ the creatures for our pleasure.

And…I love reading Nina’s continuing stories. She’s a rare one, herself.

nina said...

Yes, the nest was a marvel, as are the tiny lives that I watched grow for the month they were here. And, to say I became attached to the little charmers is an understatement.
What makes this especially difficult for me, was sharing the experience of the mobbing--I was there and helpless to protect them. As humans, we seldom feel the fear of predators--the panic that arises when you sense looming danger. Without defense and doomed.
Six jays methodically scoured each tree, each branch--cleaning it thoroughly. They have picked the yard clean!
I know the predator deserves my admiration, and most times I can see, without bias, the circle of nature. But in the last years we've noticed a huge growth in the number of bluejays, and a decline in others. It brings up concern that there may be an imbalance.
I wonder what next year will bring.

Richard said...

Nina...tried to contact you thru the email but it won't work.

If you want to post pictures in a larger format, contact me thru my blog and I will tell you how.

Mary said...

I read the article on predators. It still doesn't make me feel any better. I'm sorry for you - really sorry.

Mary said...

Oh, I hate that :-( I don't like sad endings. Makes me want to go out and run off my 3-4 bluejays. I'm sorry....if this was me, I'd be crying.

Crayons said...

Oh my. I just caught up on about two weeks of your blog. My heart has dropped in my chest. I like what you said about hummingbird tears.

Nina, this is such a rich spot. I love visiting your blog because you lead me to see things in nature that I would not otherwise notice.

Last week at a temp job I thought of you. The boss called me in and told me to get rid of "that thing" on the carpet. It was a toad! I wished that you were there because I couldn't bring myself to pick it up. One of the lab techs took it out.

nina said...

Crayons, I'm so glad to have you here and everyone else that takes the time to visit. And I know what time it takes--I'm often guilty of not visiting others as much as i should, just because of shortness of time.
I'm so glad you take something away with you, too--what I'm really here for, if I had to define my purpose.

You'll meet a toad, up close and personal someday, I know. They're some of my favorite things!

Kerri said...

OH Nina...I feel such sadness and loss! But I LOVE what NC Mountain Woman commented...and that is what I will chose to do. I will smile because it happened! Your posts are always fantastic...this one was that...and a tearjerker too.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Every time I see a predator take prey it makes me cringe. I know it is the natural order but it doesn't make it easy when we have attached ourselves.

I remember watching a Kesteral being mobbed by two Robins trying to protect their nest. I about got sick when the Kesteral came off the nest with one of the young in its talons. Not being emotionally attached to the robins didn't make it any easier to watch. Everyone has to eat. Sigh~~

Anonymous said...


I hope I didn't come off as being insensitive to your feelings about the hummingbirds. It wasn't my intent at all.

Predators, indeed all of the many pitfalls that all life faces are the Yang to life's Ying. As the article hinted at, death is responsible for life's diversity. That, of course, doesn't make the loss of something we've grown attached to any easier. And few could have written of it as well as you have.

zhakee said...

Jays are beautiful, feisty, incredible hunters and scavengers, smart, very smart. I too have had jays come around and devour baby birds. How sad for you to lose such precious little birds. I was so looking forward to watching them develop and was truly wondering when their bills change shape and elongate, and was hoping to see things via your photos...sigh. I feel your pain.

nina said...

Kiggavik--not insensitive, very true.
Predator/prey relationships are necessary--and, intellectually, I know that to be the case.
I've learned that watching does not always show what we would like to see.

The circle of life continues--a red-shouldered hawk is causing quite a commotion in the pines. The jay family seems very concerned.

nina said...

Zhakee--you mention wanting to see their bills change--THAT is exactly what I'd hoped for too--and the first lift-off...

zhakee said...

That first lift off with those rapidly whirring wings... do they sit on the sides of the nest and practice whirring those wings to build strength? Do they hop from nest to branch like other fledglings do? Do they flutter to the ground? So many unanswered questions I had! In my yard, when babies fledge is when the jays come round. I've even rescued fallen fledglings from the ground and caged them up until the jays left the yard! Well, once I did with a titmouse fledgling. And that one survive the jays. I love jays but NOT around nestlings and fledglings.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Dear Nina,

I'm heartbroken for you and Mama Hummingbird. Knowing as much as you do about the workings of nature, you were waiting for the shoe to drop, as was I. It makes successful fledgings that much more of a miracle, doesn't it?
I just hung up the phone with someone who had found a hummingbird with what sounded like an obviously broken wing--immobile and held straight out. I had to gently give them instructions on humane euthanasia, because, after having had four such cases hang on for months and eventually die anyway, I knew there was nothing anyone could do but fall in love with the tiny patient and have their heart slowly broken in two--better to end the relationship as it starts. And it occurred to me to wonder how your birds had fared...I have had no time to read blogs lately. And found your sad post of July 18.
I'm so sorry. And yet I smile, as the wise Mountainwoman suggested, that it happened at all, that we all got so much out of it thanks to you. Please don't feel responsible in any way. Jays happen.


Q said...

Dear Nina,
I was thinking about you and your Hummingbirds the other day. I was wondering if they had fledged.
Reading that the Jays mobbed the nest, right in front of you, made me cry. I know all about nature. I have been a gardener, birdier and bugger for over 35 years. I still cried. Jays can eat other critters besides baby Hummingbirds! We have lots of extra grasshoopers!

Mary said...

Nina, I came back and read all of these posts once again. It's a story so beautifully written that I sat here and cried once again.

nina said...

I come back here, too.
For standing beneath the tree and looking at where the nest had been, I almost feel it was just a dream.

The images get fuzzy in my mind as time passes, but the experience, the awe of it all is as fresh as the hatching of Day 1. Such a privilege to be allowed to witness such miraculous beings.
Truly a gift I have been granted.

The caring words of all are so appreciated.

RuthieJ said...

Gosh Nina, I had no idea of this hummingbird story until I saw Mary's mention of it on her blog. I'm sorry to hear the story had such a sad ending. For all of nature's beauty we enjoy, there are always horrible things going on too.
I still like Bluejays despite their bad rep and I remember not too many years ago we lost almost all of them due to West Nile Virus, so maybe there is some justice in nature too.