26 April, 2012

Sometimes Nature can be Harsh

I was all excited to find two nests on our small property this month. I identified the first one right away, as the Mother Mockingbird was already incubating her eggs when I spotted the nest out front in a live oak tree.

Then just a week or so ago, I spotted this in our grapevine:

I look in all my birding books and online for photos, to guess at what kind of nest this must be. That egg is pretty small! Our "regulars" are generally very stealthy about their nests here at the cottage because I suspect they are keen to the fact that we have a Cooper's Hawk and a Red-shouldered Hawk that are pretty regular, as well. :-(

The following day, I walked toward the nest again, this one in the backyard, and both cardinal parents were near the area.

To my excitement, it was confirmed to me that this was a cardinal nest and eggs.

Yesterday, I thought I saw one more egg in there, carefully spying on them before my Spanish class students arrived. I may have seen wrong, as I didn't want to interfere.

This morning, the inevitable happened. Mother Cardinal was no more. Her body was picked half-clean by the merciless little Cooper's Hawk.

I saved a few feathers, and watch to see if the father will take over incubation...but I doubt that he will. The fathers only rarely spend any time on the eggs under normal circumstances, from what I have read.

Poor Mrs. C should have chosen a better location than right near the fence, where the hawk loves to sit and look for prey.


The male cardinal sings out a song. I just thought he was keeping watch over the nest and the momma at the time. I was photographing evening primrose and a painted lady butterfly.
In hindsight, I wonder if he was already calling for another mate, or simply calling out for the original one who laid the eggs.

Now I wonder if he will stay around here, or go on toward the lake and look for a new mate far away from here. He knows there is a good food source here. We shall see...I will let you know.

Until next time, keep your eyes on the trees and bushes and watch for movement.


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