Beware the Chicken Snake, My Friend

By: qwerty53

Aug 12 2008

Category: Bird watching, photography, Uncategorized

1 Comment

Aperture:f/6
Focal Length:155mm
ISO:640
Shutter:1/60 sec
Camera:NIKON D70


Glancing out the window of my friend Jeff’s house, I could see the mother bird flying back and forth to the nest tucked under his porch eave. “Yes, that’s Marion,” he remarked, “our resident robin. She has newborn babies in the nest.”
I hurried right out with my camera, of course, intent on capturing the elusive tiny beaked mouth, as that was about all you could see—but there they were—at least two, bobbing up and down like tiny bald jack-in-the-boxes.
“I just cleaned out the remains of the previous empty nest,” Jeff said, “when in no time, Marion had built this new one. It seemed rather precariously balanced, so I tucked an old light switch plate under it for support.”
That warmed my heart, because that is the kind of human Jeff is—one who would notice such a minute thing and take careful action.
We all traipsed out and from my short perspective, I took a less-than-satisfactory shot or two.
When I spoke with Jeff today, he said, “On a sad note, you got the last picture of the baby birds.”
“Oh, no, what happened?”
“Last night after dark we heard the birds making quite a racket, but I figured they were just being expressive. Later, I started out the front door, but it was blocked by a 5-foot snake—and my brain clicked—and I saw a suspicious lump in the snake. I pushed it aside and ran in to get a mirror which I held above the nest—and it was empty! I was so mad at that snake; I only had on my flip-flops, but I stomped that snake with both feet until it slunk away. We are just so upset that we didn’t go out to check when we heard the cries.”
“Well, how is Marion taking all this,” I asked. “Oh, she’s been sitting quietly in one spot in the bush. You know, I think she’s a single mother. She has been here for two years, now and at first there seemed to be a daddy robin that also came in and fed the babies, but this time she seemed to be doing it all on her own.”
“Do you think birds, even with their primitive brains, feel sadness?” Jeff asked.
This generated a spirited discussion of that possibility, with me asserting that motherly instincts run deep, I’m betting, even in birds.

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One comment on “Beware the Chicken Snake, My Friend”

  1. Wow, what a beautiful tribute to Marion’s poor nestlings. That snake had better watch it’s back…if it has a back.


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