Somerville, Mass - There has been a lot of activity in the back yard this week. A nice cardinal couple moved into the tree near the back door. We have named them Cardy-Girl (after the long-time owner and occupant of the pink house, a lady whose ghost certainly lurks in one form or another) and Daddy-O. The nest is high enough that you can't see inside, but this week it became apparent that the egg(s) had hatched. Those little peepers make quite a racket!
The funny thing is that they only peep when the parents are around. Both Cardy-Girl and Daddy-O spend a lot of time and energy bringing food to the chick. (They seem to be very nice parents.) When they are away, there is no movement in the nest and all is quiet. But as soon as one of the parents announces his or her arrival, the peeping commences.
I was curious about what was going on in there, so I found this on YouTube. We could actually see the chick's wide-open beak, which would pop up above the nest when one of the parents showed up. We also watched the adult male clean out the nest, as you can see in this video.
I read that the nestlings would stay for 10-11 days before being coaxed out into the wide world. As it turned out, today was the big day. I was pulling out a few weeds, when I happened to glance up and notice this little fuzzball perched on a branch of the tree where the nest was.
Apparently this is normal for a fledgling, who should spend another 1-2 weeks on the ground before he has the strength to fly. This is the the chick's most vulnerable time, for obvious reasons. This afternoon, I decided to work in the backyard and I had to chase off two different cats.
The problem is that this guy does not stay still. If he would just stay hidden in our garden, I could make sure that the cats are not around. (We have done this before when the catbirds were nesting nearby.) But over the course of the afternoon, the fledgling made his way into the neighbor's yard, and eventually around to the front.
He's easy to track, because he's such a peeper, and the parents are constantly monitoring his progress. He goes quiet when a predator approaches, or when the parents fly off to find some food. But otherwise, there is constant communication between the three of them.
Anyway, that's what's happening in the pink house. It's almost as good as Botswana!