Monday, June 6, 2016

Real life stories

I have been watching several of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's bird webcams this spring. At one end of the spectrum, we have the happy tale of the redtail hawks: three eggs laid, three birds successfully hatched, three juveniles well fed and tended by their experienced parents. The first hawk fledged (took its first flight off the nest) last night. From here, the young hawks will face riskier lives as they learn to fly and hunt, but they have had as good a start as young birds could have.

On the other end of the spectrum was the disaster unfolding at the barn owl nest box: rainy weather that kept the parents from providing enough prey for their six hatchlings; the disappearance of the male parent; attacks on the nest by another owl; the gradual loss of the owlets until only one was left; and then the injury and disappearance of the female parent. (It was hard not to wish that the redtail father in New York, who provided an abundance of food for his young, could also provide food for the hungry owlets in Texas. But nature doesn't work that way.) The remaining owlet appears to be the lone survivor of her family. She has been relocated to a wildlife rehab center, having begun life in just about as difficult a manner as possible.

Nature deals the cards unevenly. In every life is a story: unpredictable, riveting, and leading us to ever more questions.


  1. Wow! Jennifer, I followed your chronology of the birds like a thriller. Even though it was short, I hung on every word. I was very worried about the owlets. I'm relieved that at least one is still well and being cared for even if not ideally by a parent. You are so right that every life, be it human or animal, has a story. Thanks so much for sharing these events with your followers.

    1. The events unfolding at the owl nest kept many of us riveted. That is the power of story: by shining a light on one specific family, on the struggles of a few individuals, it gets us to learn and care not only about them, but about birds more generally.