Saturday, May 16, 2009
What started out as absolutely elation has turned to sadness. Not long ago, a cardinal family nested in our grafted willow tree not far from our window. Daily we listened and watched as the female layed not 2, or 3, but unbeknownst to us until later - 6 eggs. The proud male flittted from the backyard to the front, calling to his mate and strutting his stuff, the proud papa. We couldn't have been happier. I have loved cardinals for so long and had often seen them in the neighbors trees but never have they stayed long in our yard, so you can imagine my surprise (actually glee) when I found out they had built a nest and set up house in our tree. We set up a bird feeder (that K's Dad built and hand painted-so cute) and filled it with seed so they would have plenty to eat.
This past early Thursday, here's what happened: I am so upset. I was awakened last night at 1:07am. A cat attacked our cardinal in it's nest and she flew off screeching. She may have been injured. This morning I found the nest on the ground and 6 eggs scatttered (yes 6 now!). 3 were broken and 3 were whole. I am just sick about it, we had so wanted to watch them all hatch. I put on gardening gloves and put the nest and remaining eggs back. It's highly unlikely she will return.
Thursday morning: Two of the broken eggs had embryo's that were close to being ready to hatch.The eggs were different sizes so it's apparent she just kept laying them. It's also apparent that our ornamental willow is just too low to the ground and too vulnerable of a place to hatch baby birds. You can see the claw marks on the tree bark. We now think the cat carried the female cardinal off and killed her. She has never returned. *Just sick about it.* Mother Nature, it's just not fair!
Friday: I dreamt of little red balls of feathers hatching and flitting about under her window last night...was so excited, called my husband to come look. So sad it was just a dream.
Prior to the attack we had been trying to take photos of them, however they can be quite elusive. I took these through our windows and screens so the quality isn't very sharp. The male was at quite a distant, the female just before she flew back to her nest one early morning. The only time I saw her during incubation time. Thankfully we at least have these photos. The male still comes by every day calling her. We hope he'll find another mate and try again, maybe in our little tree. If he does, K will build a cover to keep the cat from climbing again. That cat is best warned to never step foot in our yard again.