Saturday, July 29, 2023


Last week, my nephew Benjamin was visiting. Ben is eight. He's stayed here several times before, and by now he pretty much runs the place. But he hadn't been here since last November, and there have been a lot of changes since his last visit, so one evening he and I were strolling around outside. I was pointing out the changes to the property. We stopped by the boathouse. I showed him the bird's nest positioned in the eaves, just above the boathouse door. I'd been watching the nest for some weeks. I couldn't see inside without disturbing it, but I had the impression it was empty, as it had that dried-out appearance. Ben and I decided to lift it down from the eaves, using a wide blade paint scraper and a hand-held broom to secure it. As we detached it and lowered it to the ground, the nest started to fall apart. Inside were four very newly hatched birds. We put the nest on the patio and while Ben guarded it, I ran back up to the garden shed and brought down two empty bowl-shaped plastic flower pots. I nailed the first one to the doorframe, at eye level. Then we swept up the broken nest and all four hatchlings, put them in the other flowerpot and set it inside the one attached to the doorframe. I had little hope they'd survive the night, being so small, and I felt guilty for disrupting the nest.
Next morning, all four birds were still in their new surroundings and still alive. It felt like a miracle. Once a day Ben and I would go and check on them. And each day they were a big bigger and more mature. I was feeling a bit better about myself, but still unsure they'd survive.
The last day of Ben's visit was Tuesday. I was careful not to draw his attention to the birds, and as he had just learned to swim and dive the previous day, he spent as much time as possible at the pool, showing off his new aquatic skills to his grandfather, who had swung by for a visit. Mid-afternoon, we drove Ben back to meet his mother. Immediately on returning home, I went down to the boathouse, somehow fearing the worst. There was no worst: all four birds had grown new wing feathers and a fair amount of confidence, as they had repositioned themselves in their new spacious abode. Today I took my phone down there to photograph them. As soon as I got in front of the nest and called out, "Hello, friends", it was suddenly like a Hitchcock movie and I was Tippi Hedren. All four rose up in unison on their new wings and flew right at me. They kind of remind me of Ben, only they have a grumpy expression on their faces. Ben is always thrilled to show off his newest skills but, at least when he's at Auntie's, he is never grumpy.

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