Monday, May 01, 2023

Little birdies, little bruiser

About a month ago, we heard some wild chirping outside and stumbled into two male cardinals trying to prove to each other who was the bigger man. 

Evidently one of them won because over the past few weeks a pair of cardinals have been making a nest in the tree just outside our front door, which is rather exciting! At least, the cat and I both seem to think so. Here's kitty hungrily watching the birds work.

They don't seem remotely bothered by her, but they don't like it when I stare at them through the window. So I try not to because...I don't want to frighten them off. They aren't sitting on the nest full time yet, so here's a view of the nest as we can see it through our window:

It's nestled into the branches quite snuggly and I can't quite peep into it unaided from the outside, so the other day I stuck my phone up in the branches and took a picture...and found it empty. But today I did the same thing and I egg!

Just one for now (I think), but there may be others joining it later. The kids have been expressly forbidden from climbing the tree, but I do hope these birds are going to be satisfied having us as next-door neighbours (we can be a little overwhelming at times). Fortunately for them, we usually go through the garage (they likely noticed this as they were scoping out good nesting spots). But it's not like we never sit on the porch...because we do!

It's okay. We'll figure it out.

Here are a few fun things I didn't know about cardinals before recently:
  1. They typically mate for life (and frequently travel in pairs).
  2. They (and other birds) don't necessarily start incubating eggs right away. Evidently they can just let their eggs sit around in the air temperature for days (even weeks) before they incubate them (this may be to ensure the eggs all hatch around the same time). 
  3. Cardinals feel very exotic to me because I never saw them growing up, but apparently their range is expanding farther north and there have even been sightings in Alberta.
  4. They can suppress West Nile Virus once infected with it.
  5. They used to be commonly kept as pets, but that's illegal now. But I feel like having them build a nest just outside our window is pretty close (but obviously very different). 
Anyway, this cardinal mom (who I've seen, but haven't captured in a picture) did a wonderful job on her nest and I'm excited for her baby birds!

My own baby bird took a bit of tumble today. She was being such a stinker during primary and kept bringing me cups and begging for water. But I was trying to teach the primary lesson and she had two water bottles sitting right there (that I'd already filled up, but which she evidently found unsatisfactory) and there were two other grown people in the house for her to bother about this, so I said, "Phoebe! I'm not going to fill up any more cups for you. Either choose one of the cups that are already filled, or go bug someone else about this. Find Daddy or Rachel and ask them to help you."

Rachel heard me chastising the poor baby, so she ran into the music room to retrieve her and give her yet another cup of water. 

Because if we don't fill up every single sippy cup we own every single day and leave them in random spots around the house...are we even living?

She scooped Phoebe up and...promptly dropped her...directly on her face...on the hardwood floor.

"RACHEL!" I gasped/screamed. 

"OH, NO!" Rachel began blubbering. "Oh, no! Oh, no! I don't know what happened! She's fine. She's fine. She's okay. She's...look...she's fine."

No bloody nose. No tooth injury. Lots of crying and some definite bruising. But she's mostly fine. 

Here she is just before her nap (to clarify what bruising occurred, she has stork bites (birth marks that should clear up in the next couple of years) sprinkled between her eyebrows and up the middle her forehead into her hairline; the bruising is on her cheek, around her her eye, and a little on the side of her forehead):

Here are the two of them after Phoebe's nap (Rachel was helping her eat a granola bar, and then she decided to squirm off Rachel's lap and kick the granola bar across the floor because she' irrational actor):

I took her outside to play around and we saw a snail crawling across the sidewalk.

Phoebe picked it up and...tried to eat it...of course. (Why, Phoebe? Why???)

So I said, "No, no, no! Snails are not for eating!* Snails are for looking at! Use your eyes! Look at it with your eyes!"

* Don't anyone tell her about escargot, okay? She can learn about that later in life.

And she was like, "My eyes? Okay..."

"It's very hard to look at the snail this way, Mommy, but if you insist...I will use my eyes."

I know children of this size shouldn't be left unattended, but, like, Phoebe really shouldn't be left unattended. She's always getting into everything. I am not kidding when I say that we are exhausted.

Here's what her face looked like this afternoon:

It'll be interesting to see what it looks like tomorrow morning. Rachel said something about how "she doesn't look like someone you'd want to run into in a dark alley."

And I said, "Oh, she's a bruiser, for sure. She'd be all, 'You think I look bad. You should see the other guy!'"

And Rachel said (in good humour), "I am the other guy and I am not okay! I might look fine on the outside, but I'm hurting inside."

She really does feel awful about it, but I think they'll both make a full recovery.

Here she is just before bed, talking to Naanii and Bumpa and Millie on the phone (we tried to call Maren for her birthday, too, but ended up sending a video of the kids singing 'Happy Birthday' instead):

You can see the bruise just beside her mouth has deepened, but the redness on her cheek has gone down quite a bit. Poor little bird.


  1. Extend my empathy to Rachel. I was on a trip to California with the twins I was nannying. One day, I placed one of their car seats on top of the car (something we did regularly with these weird health department rental car seats). I must not have placed it far enough on to the roof, because it slid off into a bush, face first. I was initially paralyzed with fear. The baby was ok, but I spent the rest of the month-long trip absolutely miserable, because the (single) mom and I both clammed up. It was 30 years ago.

    I also want to say how much I admire how you teach your kids about nature.

  2. We have cardinals who live in our backyard, and often see a nest or two in our rose bushes. Last year the male cardinal stood on the table I have back there like he was declaring "this is where we live right now! Please keep your distance." I took a couple of pictures of that. A few years back, a cardinal laid an egg right outside, on the stoop. I'm pretty sure I posted about that on Facebook. Anyway...nice cardinal story!

    Hope Phoebe's face is OK!