Birds Of a Feather

A momma bird has nested in a hanging flower basket on my front porch.  She’s been there over a week, quietly sitting guard over her little soon-to-be brood. 

She picked a busy week for this.  The weather has been beautiful, so we’ve spent most of our evenings this week doing yard work all around her.  Hubs has been cleaning gutters directly abover her, and I’ve been tilling in the flower bed right below.  My kids, re-introducing themselves to the joy of warm-weather play, have been sending soccer balls flying all over our yard. 

And at first, Momma Bird viewed us skeptically.  We were intruders, a source of danger, and there was no mistaking the look in her beady little eyes as she watched us work.  I’ve tried to reassure her–"your babies are safe," I’ve explained at least a dozen times.  But still, she has watched us constantly, with great alarm. 

A few days ago, my mail-order plants arrived for their yearly planting, including the batch I planned to put in the container where she sits.  They’re not cheap plants.  I need to get them planted, as soon as possible.  But I’ve watched that little momma for days now–calm and motionless, vigilant and wary–and I’ve known in my heart that I won’t be doing anything in that container until she’s gone.

Because I know what it’s like to guard little ones.

To fear for their safety.

To watch the world with suspicion.

In fact, helping her protect her little nest has become somewhat of an obsession with me.  I’ve banished the kids and their flying soccer balls to the neighbor’s yard, and I’ve scolded Hubs more than once for accidentally bumping her planter while working.  I’ve watched the events in the news the last week and felt that momma bird’s fear.  She worries about high winds and an unusually agile cat; I worry about school shooters and terrorists.

Both of us just want our little ones safe.

This morning, my daughter and I sat out in the porch swing, enjoying the beautiful morning.  Corrie sang "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" with enough gusto and drama to wake the dead.  I looked up at our little momma bird, in her nest only a few feet away, and I noticed something remarkable.

She wasn’t watching me anymore. 

I think she trusts me, finally.  I guess (at least, I want to believe) that the momma in her recognized the momma in me.  I want to think she felt the undercurrent of motherhood camaraderie that even transcends species, as we both work to keep our little chicks safe.

We mommas have to stick together.

26 thoughts on “Birds Of a Feather

  1. KD says:

    So true! Love this post. Being a Mom means always worrying. I lost my first child during my 7th month of pregnancy. During my next pregnancy, I worried almost every second. I remember clearly thinking after he was born and the doctor had declared him heathly that my worries were over. Yep, for 5 glorious minutes I was happy and worry free. Until….he gave a little cry and I began to worry why. I then realized that being a Mom means we will also be trying to protect our young. I’m 54 now and I KNOW my Mom still worries about me.

  2. Carrie says:

    Brendon found an abandoned (and frozen) robin’s egg in our yard last week, and for hours I worried about whether this was the only egg she’d laid, whether she’d been able to protect her other eggs from the unexpected frost (we had a 50-degree drop in temps out of nowhere), and then went on to worry about all of the birds and their young this spring. Had a lot of mommas laid their eggs and then gotten hit by the frost? Would there be as many birds this year? It went on all day.
    Once a mom, always a mom – even to other species. πŸ™‚

  3. kim from hiraeth says:

    We had a Momma Robin lay three clutches of eggs in the little tree outside our front porch last year. I chronicled the whole thing on my blog. So far this year, she hasn’t come back. I feel like something is really missing.

  4. lisa h. says:

    you are too cute.
    a baby robin fell in our yard last year and the parents were flying all over our back yard the whole day and i finally figured out what all the fuss was and found the baby and put him back up in the tree. his little sister was actually in the tree too, so i put them side by side and it felt so nice to help out this little bird family! i even took pictures!

  5. Everyday Mommy says:

    This is quite the coincidence. A mourning dove has made her nest in a hanging flower pot on our back patio. We’ve been watching her and the daddy dove as they trade back and forth, incubating the egg. I have photos to post later.

  6. Kelly at Love Well says:

    A robin built a nest on a tree near our deck last year, and I must say, she NEVER accepted our presence. She would chirp loudly, fly at our heads, land on the deck railing and scold us, even hop up the deck stairs in an attempt to intimidate us back inside.
    My daughter, who was four at the time, would shout at her, “IT’S OK MOMMY BIRD! WE’RE NOT GOING TO HURT YOUR BABIES!”
    But the message never sank in. Maybe she just had a bad case of PMS, bird-style.
    Either way, I’m glad to hear robins can live at peace with humans nearby. Maybe we’ll get to enjoy our deck this year.

  7. Susane says:

    Beautiful post, Shannon! I think we all, after this last week, just want to bring our brood in a little closer to us and keep our wings around them.
    It’s going to be so neat when those little chicks hatch. You’re kids will thrilled getting to see that!

  8. Lucy says:

    Every year when I was a kid, a robin would make a nest under our deck. We would peek through the slats to watch the babies. They would open their little mouths hoping we’d feed them, but we didn’t. πŸ™‚ We’d watch them grow feathers and finally see them hopping out of the nest. Eventually, the mommy robins stopped coming, but I’ll never forget being able to be so close and the momma robins never seemed to mind us stomping on the deck. We had cardinals build nests in our bushes, but they were a little more protective.
    Beatiful post! I love spring and watching the momma animals with their babies and knowing that the drive to protect our young is something we share. I’d leave the pot alone, too. πŸ™‚

  9. Tara says:

    We had a mamma bird with four eggs last spring build a nest in a bush by our deck. I’m hoping she’ll see fit to start again soon! It was fun to watch her build, feather and fill her nest.

  10. the Butler's wife says:

    Oh, I loved this post. We had the same thing happen 2 years ago. It was a house wren and she built her nest on our back porch, on our bakery rack that we have plants on. It was right next to the kitchen window. We turned the planter so that we could look directly into her nest through the window. It was the first thing we did every morning, and the last thing we did every night. We had a flashlight next to the window for 6 weeks. Three she sat on the nest, and three she nurtured them.
    The day she called them all out I sat on the back porch and watched 5 little wrens hop and skip and jump and finally fly. They flew to the woods as she called them out.
    I was sad to see them go. Glad for their new found freedom and independence. Glad they all made it. Glad I had been able to watch. But I really knew what the whole “empty nest” thing was going to feel like. I am getting close.
    Enjoy your guests. It’s a neat privilege to be able to watch so closely.

  11. Kelley says:

    Isn’t it the same in blogland too? We’ve never seen each other face-to-face, but as we read and write, we can clearly “see” into the mother-place in each others’ hearts, and share the journey.
    Loved the post, Shannon. Great insight!

  12. Gretchen Hanna says:

    What a sweet, poignant post. I bet she does trust you. Don’tcha just wish we all lived on the same block? I just love this community I’ve so recently become a part of. Blessings.

  13. Jeannette says:

    Be happy that they are not pigeons.One year I lived in an apartment. This happy little couple startied bringing sticks to the patio. I thought it was cute. They had two little eggs that I faithfully checked on. Then they hatched and the war was on. They, shall I say, pooped everywhere. I had to wait until the little varmits were able to fly away. Then I spent the better part of a month cleaning my deck. The next year when the proud parents started bringing sticks back to the patio I was on the defense. I swept the deck so often those parents never stood a chance of moving in with me again.

  14. Wishy says:

    We have a mama junco nesting in our hanging basket on our front porch! I can totally relate to this post and you wrote it so beautifully. Thankn you.

  15. Tina says:

    I’ve always loved your writing, but this is, I think, one of the most beautifully written pieces you’ve shared with us!
    Thank you!

  16. Faerylandmom says:

    I love that! I wish I had a momma bird nesting in my hanging basket. Alas, that is not to be just now.
    This really is beautifully written…I really really loved it.

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