What a joy it's been to observe them! I've watched Marcia sit in her nest for days, then wriggle as she's laid her eggs. I've seen John come feed her beak-to-beak as she's maintained her vigil. Eventually I saw one, then two hatchlings poke above the nest, open-mouthed, with a single fluff of fuzz conspicuously adorning otherwise bare heads. He also fed the babies. I had no idea males were involved with feeding.
I noticed that once their offspring were born, John and Marcia were no longer as visible. They seemed to stop by the nest infrequently. When the weather turned unexpectedly cold, I was concerned. 'Marcia, where the heck are you? Are you out at a new Moms support group? Don't you know it's cold out and your babies might freeze? And what about you, John? Where ARE you guys?'
During a break from my computer work, I could sense there was no activity in the nest. I called a friend and sadly related the news that I thought the babies had died.
Shortly thereafter, I noticed Marcia on the side of the nest. Her head was pointed down as she wriggled her head side to side as if shaking the babies (or what was left of them) to 'wake up!' She did this from one edge of the nest to the other. Then she sat inside.
In that moment, I realized how much I was judging these birds. I obviously knew nothing about bird rules, but from my well-meaning, highly limited viewpoint, they didn't know what they were doing! It was a humbling lesson to catch myself reacting. I then re-centered in remaining neutral as a privileged observer, trusting in the wisdom of nature with a 'live and let live' perspective.
Shortly after Marcia had returned, I was relieved to see fuzzy heads once again poke out of the nest. As I was writing this post days later, I quickly grabbed my camera. This endearing moment captures John. Both he and Marcia continue to tend to their babies.
Photo Credit: Catherine Lenard