Wednesday, August 1, 2012


A rather large cottonwood is growing in our front yard. The branches spread high above the driveway and across the yard. Over the course of a year we watch the tree grow and lose leaves. We watch it for the first dusting of snow, to calculate the direction of the wind, and so much more. The tree provides us with shade, a taste of seasonal change, and it provides a home to countless living creatures.  Squirrels are constantly scampering around and birds flit from branch to branch.

We noticed this summer that there was a pair of bluejays spending a lot of time around our yard and assumed they lived  somewhere near by. Unfortunately we learned that the pair had actually made a nest in our cottonwood when we found two of their little babies, dead, on our driveway. I am not sure if it is the raging post partum hormones or what, but I was really upset by their deaths. I reflected on how much I had seen the blue jays recently and couldn't help but hurt for those parents that may or may not know what happened to their babies. I hoped that there were more babies in the nest...and I hoped that we wouldn't find any more on our driveway. We tried to spot the nest from below, but it is hidden way up high in the leafy tree so we had no way of knowing whether or not there were more baby jays.

Yesterday when Eric came in from work he found me coloring with Cordelia  in the basement as Elise cried in my arms (it was kind of an intense afternoon). He asked if my animal mother skills were in working order...they always are. Anyway, he had spotted another baby jay sitting at the end of our drive, looking confused and very vulnerable, but alive.

Eric ended up being the hero and he herded the baby into a box, without touching it, as the mama bluejay and baby bluejay cried anxiously for each other. Meanwhile I called animal control to see if they had recommendations, they had no good advice.


Eric did a little online research and concluded that the baby was about at the age that it was appropriate to leave the nest. He found that mother bluejays will stick around their baby, guarding it. So he just moved the baby away from the road (without ever touching it, lest the mother smell human on her baby) as the mother kept a nervous vigil. We let nature take its course and hoped that there would be a happy ending/beginning for this bluejay family.


When the blue jay drama was resolved Eric had to skedaddle for his Tae Kwon Do class and I stayed home with two very cranky girls. There were tears, whines, tantrums---all of the glory that can sometimes accompany motherhood. I was tired, but trying to keep my cool. Then I heard the familiar call of the bluejay outside, calling to her baby. I heard the baby call back to its mother.  I looked at my two girls and I was filled with a sense of connection and gratitude. I felt connected to this other mother who was just hoping that her little baby would be OK in this big and dangerous world. I also felt such gratitude that my biggest worries right now are whether or not I can endure a rough night of whine/cry meltdown combo from my daughters. I was served up a solid dose of perspective. My babies are OK, my babies are as safe as I can make them. I knew I could and I gladly (with a touch of exasperation) would endure a less than serene evening.

Somehow we got dinner and set about getting ready for bed when the cloud parted and both of my girls were mellow, for a moment at least, and I was able to take a deep breath and really look at these two little ladies who demand so much and so little at the same time.


While I knew I was in for a long night I also knew that it would all pass and that each of these little moments are worth their weight in whines and tears.

When I awoke this morning, before I got out of bed I lay there listening to the call of a mother bluejay and the quieter and slightly higher pitch call of baby bluejay.


AKM said...

What a sweet reflection. It's got it all...motherhood, animals, gratitude. Lovely.

Anonymous said...

wow what a beautiful post! such wonderful perspective:) Love the pic of your two little ones:)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post today.

Anne Marie said...

We have witnessed the loss of many baby birds over the years, and it is always heartbreaking. But, just so you know, we've never had problems with parents rejecting the babies we've helped that were alive when we found them. It's better to not have to handle them, but sometimes it can't be avoided (like this year when we had a baby sparrow hanging on the outside of the nest by one foot). Like the jays, robins take care of their babies for at least several days after they fledge. I think it was last summer that a baby got separated from it's parents and was being stalked by a cat. So we brought him in for the night, fed him several times, then put him back out in the morning where we'd seen him with his parents the day before, and they were there! Parents and baby were reunited and went on their merry way. I hope your baby jay will grow up, big and strong!

Susan Struck said...

I really, really need a copy of that photo of your girls!

Emily said...

What a great reminder from two gentle creatures. Hope all the Mamas and Babies that live in/near your home sleep well tonight. :)

Amber said...

That is such a sweet story! I love the pictures. Thanks for sharing :)

Amber said...

What a sweet story! I also love the pictures. Thank you for sharing!

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