• May 24, 2004

A Sad Bird Story

Restoration Diary

We are pretty busy here. The restoration on our house continues. We are now working on the outside getting it ready to paint. We hired some craftsmen to help with the work.

We have large rafters on our house and the birds build nests in them. I asked the men to cover the open rafters with chicken wire to keep the birds out. There is a nest outside of our bedroom window that I wanted left alone because it has babies in it. The men speak mostly Spanish and a little English, I speak all English and no Spanish. The language barrier causes confusion sometimes and the men ripped down the nest.

When I saw the nest laying on the ground my stomach dropped. I didn’t see any baby birds in the nest or around it, so I hoped that the babies had already left the nest (they were getting old enough to fly).


While the men were eating their lunch on the front porch I decided to look for termite damage on the back of the house (another problem we are dealing with). I bent down to pick up some debris and was startled by a little black eye looking at me. I realized it was a baby bird who was alive but frozen with fear from the day’s events and a giant redhead looming over it. I went inside to get a pair of gloves to pick it up with and wondered what I would do with the bird once I managed to pick it up?

As I crouched down and tried to cup my gloved hands around the bird it flew about 2 ft. away, low to the ground. That is when I discovered the bird could fly; not well enough to fly to safety but well enough to fly away from me and to prevent me from catching it. I would get close to the bird and it would fly a few feet away. It flew under our fence and under a parked van. I searched under the van but couldn’t find the bird. I don.t know if it flew further away and out from under the van or somehow is hiding underneath the vehicle?

All the activity caught the attention of my neighbor’s Siamese cats. They are sisters who are outside cats and slightly wild. Their owner likes to keep them a little hungry so they hunt the numerous messy birds around her house.

The braver sister came over and started to look for the baby bird. The baby bird.s parents were close by in a tree and started screeching and dive bombing at the cat who in return started jumping in the air trying to catch and kill one of the parents. I chased the cat away but she kept sneaking back and lying in wait. I think she was trying to get the adult birds to fly at her so she could kill them. I put premium cat food in cat’s yard to make sure they were well fed and to distract them from the birds.


I haven’t been able to find the bird and don’t think it will survive with all the traffic and wild cats here. Watching the mother and father birds flying at the cat to save their baby was heartbreaking. They are sitting in the tree, chirping in a way that sounds mournful. Today they lost their house and who knows how many children? I feel like I made things worse by drawing the cat’s attention to their baby.

Comments { 3 }
  1. Nathan

    ooooh. In January I bought a 1912 bungalow just outside Washington DC, and my GF moved in in April. Though many of our problems are different, the house is in about the same shape as yours. For instance, I have no evidence of termites, but a floor beam cracked sometime around WWII, leaving a slope in the living room floor fit for Olympic ski jumping. The crack is at a place under the crawlspace where there’s <12″ from underside of beam to the packed earth, and so no chance to get a post-jack under it or anything.
    In any case, after reading the entire site, this bird story finally got me to respond. We have really crappy aluminum track storm windows from which several of the panes are missing, and one of these is at the top of out stairs. The rim of the storm-frame provided a perfect nook to build a nest in, right under our sheltering eaves, and one day I came home from work to discover that someone ELSE was homesteading in the neighborhood! At first, she was very jittery and flew away whenever someone came upstairs~ which kind of made you feel guilty for grabbing a nap. In time, though, she got to know that we weren’t a threat, and we got to watch her life from just an inch away. Soon enough, there were eggs, then chicks. This was too cool~ it may have only been a Rock Dove, but this was like our own private zoo exhibition; almost another pet.
    Summer hit, though, and here in DC humidity hovers between 80%-90% for weeks on end with temperatures well into the 90′s. The upstairs was a sauna and one morning I had to open the window while Mommabird (yes, she’d acquired a handle) was out. I only cracked it, hoping not to disturb the family, but when I got back from work that evening, the nest was empty. No Mammabird, but no chicks, either, so I hope they all just relocated.

    Great site… I’m drawing lots of inspiration. BTW; ever feel guilty for going to bed at night when you’re not quite done stripping or sanding or whatever the task of the moment is?

  2. heather

    Nathan, hi!

    Thanks for sharing your bird story – glad it ended happier than mine did.

    Feel guilty, who me? :)
    Oh, yes. When we were working on the living room and there were a million things that I should have been doing in there but just didn’t feel like it, I avoided the front of the house all together. I even left and entered through the back door so I wouldn’t have to walk through that room and see all the things I should be working on…

  3. Kona

    Your bird story is quite heartbreaking…. Just the other day i looked up in our tree and saw a nest i was standing there wondering if it had chicks in it so the next day i came out and sure enough i saw mamma bird setting there so there had to have been little tikes. Thhhhat night i came back from a hard day at work and found a DEAD blue jay chick i sat there and of course got teary.I soon found the mother STILL dive bombing! “They must of thoght this little guy wqas still alive”! I said to myself. Poor thing!!

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