If you would like to add a comment to any of the threads here on AADB, registration with blogspot.com is not required. Simply click on the ‘comments’ link at the bottom of an essay, and either enter a nickname under ‘choose an identity’ or post your comment anonymously. Serious comments are always welcome.

REQUIEM

Below are the two final essays to be posted on Allegiance and Duty Betrayed. The first one is written by a friend -- screen name 'Euro-American Scum' -- who, over the past four years, has been the most faithful essayist here. He has written about everything from his pilgrimage to Normandy in 2004 to take part in the 60th–year commemoration of the invasion, to his memories of his tour in Vietnam. His dedication to America’s founding principles ... and those who have sacrificed to preserve them over the past 200+ years ... is unequaled. Thank you, E-A-S. It has been a privilege to include your writing here, and it is a privilege to call you my friend.

The second essay is my own farewell. And with it I thank all of the many regular visitors, and those who may have only dropped in occasionally, for coming here. I hope you learned something. I hope a seed or two was planted. But, even if not, I thank you for stopping by ... 25 March, 2010

7/05/2007

- Tale of the Phoebes -
A Diversionary Break from
Examining the Woes of the World

phoebe.jpg

As those of you who have been reading here for the past year know, I occasionally decide to write about somewhat personal, non-political subjects – just to provide a form of superficial relief from the genuine headline (as opposed to mainstream media ‘headline’) stories of the day. Today, feeling somewhat discouraged by the most recent mountain of evidence as to the non-representative nature of modern American government, the increasing threat represented by Islamic terrorism, and the myriad of other less-than-uplifting considerations that depress the conservative mindset, I decided to resort to composing a more superficial essay. If you’re just here for political commentary, you may want to skip this one. :)

Front Garden 2 7-2-07.jpg

About a month ago, my husband and I were sitting out on our front porch and noticed a small bird (an Eastern Phoebe, it turns out) carrying something to place atop the shutter located in the most sheltered area at the far end of the porch [behind the center column in the photo above]. Mesmerized by her industry and determination, we spent much of the next two days watching her flit from the woods that surround our house to that sheltered shutter-top. She must have made fifty or more trips to her nest-under-construction, carrying all manner of mud, dried grass, moss and dog hair (courtesy of Bert, our four-year-old flat-coated retriever) in her tiny beak on each return trip.

phoebe nest1.jpg

It took her about a day and a half to build a beautiful, sculpted, symmetric nest above our shutter – at which point she then began sitting in her beautiful creation in order to lay her eggs.

She sat for close to a week, with her ‘husband’ (Phoebes generally mate for life) faithfully assuming the job of feeding her as she sat. He would bring all manner of bugs, beetles, and ugly things with many legs to her, transferring them from his tiny beak to hers, as she dutifully kept their eggs warm.

One morning we noticed that there were tiny, barely discernible chirping voices emanating from that little corner nest, with both mom and dad now assuming the duty of feeding four little fuzzy bodies with enormous gaping ‘Feed me!’ mouths.

From dawn till dusk those two parent birds searched the woods for insects -- they were untiring in their constant hunting, and flying home with their prey. At night, the mother would continue to sit atop her babies in order to keep them warm – with the father presumably bedding down in a nearby tree at the edge of the woods. Then, at the crack of dawn the next morning, the entire feeding ritual would begin again.

[These two devoted parents never read a ‘how to’ book, never attended parenting classes, and didn’t hire surrogates to do the leg work for them. We humans could re-learn a lot from these two tiny Phoebes who have been spared the ravages of feminist doctrine. :)]

Those of you who know me well know that I am a ‘night person’ – often not going to bed before 1 or 2 AM. So those of you who know me well will be amazed to know that I became so enamored of this bird couple that I would awaken sometimes as early as 5 AM and quietly make my way out to the front porch bench in order to witness the beginning of each day’s feeding ritual. Mom and dad eventually got used to seeing me there, and behaved as if I were as much of a porch fixture as the bench on which I sat.

phoebes1.jpg

phoebes4.jpg

After about a week and a half, and as abruptly as it began, the feeding ritual ended.

Shortly after 5 AM on a Thursday morning I watched mother fly from the nest and into the woods. But this time she did not return with breakfast. Mother had decided that, on this day, her babies themselves would learn to fly. So this morning, she simply sat in a tree on the edge of the woods and called to them … and called … and called ...

At first, they simply sat in their nest, quietly waiting for their first morning bug. But gradually they appeared to realize that mom was not going to be feeding them today.

phoebes2.jpg

About an hour after his mother’s first ‘come to me’ call, the most courageous of the young Phoebes perched himself on the rim of his nest, peered into the woods, and then flew to his mother with the grace of a bird that has been flying for a lifetime. The courage and instinctual agility represented by that singular event was something I’ll never forget.

After that beautiful initial exhibition of nature at its finest, I had to leave my spectator porch-position for about an hour and a half. When I returned, there was only one baby remaining in the nest – two of his brothers/sisters having followed the lead of the most courageous of the siblings during my absence.

Mother was still calling, but her straggler child was apparently suffering from a serious case of fear of the unknown … or stubbornness.

I sat on the bench once again and watched the reluctant straggler-baby. Finally … begrudgingly … he, too, perched himself on the edge of his nest, sat there for a few minutes in order to muster the courage to join his family, flapped his little wings a time or two, and then proceeded to fly head-first into the large beam at the top front edge of the porch. The loud ‘Bonk!’ was enough to make me wince and close my eyes for just a second, for fear of what I would see next.

But that little bird did not fall to the ground. He simply lowered his trajectory by a couple of feet, and flew, somewhat wobbly but still determined, into the woods to his mother.

Completely without warning, my eyes welled up with tears. To this day, I don’t know why. But my best guess is that it must have been a combination of joy at having been privileged to spend several weeks of my life witnessing a beautiful natural event – one that has occurred, without revision, since the dawn of time. And I suppose that a part of me also knew that I was going to miss those little uninvited critters who had shared our house with us. It’s been two weeks since they left, and I still look at their little empty nest with something akin to a sense of loss.

Phoebes will return to the same nest, year after year. So, needless to say, we now have a little mud nest (somewhat the worse for wear, but prepared to be viewed as a ‘fixer upper’ next spring) permanently ensconced in the most sheltered corner of our porch. And we are already looking forward to the return of the phoebes next year. :)

~ joanie

[Apologies for the poor quality of the photos herein. I did not want to ‘interfere’ with the family, so I tried to be as unobtrusive as possible when taking the few pictures that I did, which did not allow for much focus-time or set up.] :)

22 comments:

Lori_Gmeiner said...

Lovely lovely story Joanie. Thank you for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

Loved it!

Thank you.

Darius said...

good story

ABOUt the Birds

Brad's Gramma said...

Awesome, Joanie..

This also passed the Brad Test. :)

He too thought it was awesome...having had a dog named...Phoebe...

3timesalady said...

I was on the verge of tears after reading this too, Joanie. What a beautiful story! Please let us know if they come back next year. I wonder if the babies will use the nest when the parents are gone?

robmaroni said...

What a nice "pick me up" story. Thanks, CW.

DaveBurkett said...

[These two devoted parents never read a ‘how to’ book, never attended parenting classes, and didn’t hire surrogates to do the leg work for them. We humans could re-learn a lot from these two tiny Phoebes who have been spared the ravages of feminist doctrine. :)]

LOL! Sad but true!

Anonymous said...

Awesome!

john galt said...

Most people would've noticed the birds in passing, but you studied them and wrote a beautiful article about them. That's what makes you you. ;)

smithy said...

Very nice, Joanie.

SharonGold said...

What a great story. Thank you Joanie.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely essay! I hope your birds do come back!

trustbutverify said...

What great birds- they mate for life and aren't always "trading up" on their house. ;)

All_good_men said...

I guess birds do not need a village to raise their young. Maybe, we, as humans, could learn from nature.

Anonymous said...

More phoebe info:

Perhaps the most familiar flycatcher in eastern North America, the Eastern Phoebe nests near people on buildings and bridges. It can be recognized by its emphatic "phee-bee" call and its habit of constantly wagging it tail.

In 1804, the Eastern Phoebe became the first banded bird in North America. John James Audubon attached silvered thread to an Eastern Phoebe's leg to track its return in successive years.

The use of buildings and bridges for nest sites has allowed the Eastern Phoebe to tolerate the landscape changes made by humans and even expand its range. However, it still uses natural nest sites when they are available.

Found in woodlands and along forest edges, often near water.

Nest an open cup, cemented with mud to a wall close to a ceiling. Nest made of mud mixed with green moss and some leaves, lined with fine grass stems and hair. Placed under bridge, cliff, or eave of building.

calbrindisi said...

This story is for the birds. < g >

gretahoffman said...

"Completely without warning, my eyes welled up with tears. To this day, I don’t know why. But my best guess is that it must have been a combination of joy at having been privileged to spend several weeks of my life witnessing a beautiful natural event – one that has occurred, without revision, since the dawn of time. And I suppose that a part of me also knew that I was going to miss those little uninvited critters who had shared our house with us. It’s been two weeks since they left, and I still look at their little empty nest with something akin to a sense of loss."

Nicely said, Joanie. I enjoyed your account very much.

Anonymous said...

This made me smile. Thank you.

LouBarakos said...

I like your human interest - in this case "avian interest - stories. :-) You write well on politics and this kind of story as well. I always look forward to your next essay. Thanks Joanie.

Proudpodunknative said...

But that little bird did not fall to the ground. He simply lowered his trajectory by a couple of feet, and flew, somewhat wobbly but still determined, into the woods to his mother.

It's too bad most kids these days don't have his kind of perseverance.

Anonymous said...

The opinion expressed in your "quote of the week" isn't the same as the one expressed in the media or education. I wonder which one is right. ;)

Anonymous said...

Nice writing.