Archive for the ‘Empty Nest’ Category

A Robin’s Nest – Part 3

August 10, 2014

Sunday, August 3. All three baby robins fledged yesterday. The nest is empty!


Here is a photo of the east end of our back yard:


You can see the nest – about 4/5 the way out on the lower limbs of the nearest honey locust tree.
We don’t know where the first robin found refuge, but the second robin hopped into the peony bush next to the bird bath along the left end of the fence and the third bird hopped into the lilies of the valley on the right end (the area behind the hanging pot).

Here’s a bottom view of the nest. You see the knot next to the nest? That’s where the last baby bird got caught before she fell.


Anyway, maybe feeling a bit of the empty-nest blues after all the excitement of the past week. But I am determined to keep these three baby robins safe! Our back yard is surrounded by three cement block fences so I’m pretty sure the babies are still back there.

First order of the day on Sunday, August 3, is to post a sign on the back door to remind all of us – to watch Rudy with the birds!


Yeah, well, Little Lord Fauntleroy has a history. I’ll never forget the summer a few years ago when I let him out in the morning to do his business but then he didn’t come back. I called him and finally went out to see what was holding him up. Well, it was a fledgling – in Rudy’s mouth! He was using it as a flip toy, grabbing it in his mouth and then flipping it around. Well, of course the fledging died.

But that’s not going to happen to our little bird family this time!

I hear Rudy barking outside – oh-oh. I run to the back door – oh good! Megan is out there policing him.


Sunday – the day after the birds have fledged- is hot – 90 degrees again. We see no sign of the babies but we do see busy adults – crisscrossing the trees, sitting on the back fence, hopping in the gardens.

Then on Monday, it started raining. A weather pattern of heavy thunderstorms settled over southeast Idaho. By Tuesday noon there were flash flood warnings. Cruel weather for baby birds who can’t fly! Well, the third bird, the little one, the runt, didn’t survive. It was Megan who discovered his tiny little body – sprawled out dead on the sprinkler cover next to the lily of the valley’s – just feet away from where he had initially found refuge. I wonder if he ever did get a worm from his parents after he fletched or had they already abandoned him even when he was a nestling?

It rained for four days. The young birds had to be strong enough to hop up onto tree limbs to escape the saturation on the ground.

The sun came out again on Friday. We’ve been watching for the babies. Megan and I are pretty sure we saw one with dad yesterday (the fathers take over training the young birds to fly, forage for food, recognize dangers and roost in trees with other robins). Back along the lilac hedge a speckled young one was hopping about two feet behind the dad, imitating his every move, foraging for bugs.

It’s been 8 days since the baby robins fledged. I believe the remaining two have joined the flock now – roosting together in the trees at night and feeding together by day. They will grow stronger over the next few weeks – fill up on fruits and berries to build up their body fat as fuel for migration.

Check out this link from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to learn more about robins.

Also, in my online search about robins I came upon this incredible robin blog – put together by a bird lover in Kentucky who planted cameras by several robins nests, captured fantastic photos and videos and kept a running day-by-day account of events starting with mom building the nest up to the time the birds fletch. Really cool!

Sunday, August 10 – 9AM – present time. I just now had the back door open and heard chirping. I saw two little robins frolicking along the lilac hedge at the back fence. I stepped outside and captured this video.

Methinks the babies are doing fine!

But did you know that up to 80 per cent of young robins die each year? Only the strongest, and the luckiest, survive and go on to raise young themselves.

So, I’m keeping the sign posted on the back door to remind us to watch Rudy, you know, in case he tries to turn one of the precious babies into his latest chew toy.

Rudy and David have resumed their Frisbee fetch game…

It’s just a matter of time before that Frisbee slices the empty nest out of the tree.

Make Way For … Duck Blog2!

June 12, 2013

Of course I would write it. You were wondering, weren’t you, about how things would play out with that wild duck nesting in our back yard … Well,

At first I ran the back sprinklers a lot. It got hot here and I thought any nesting duck would appreciate a cool mist.


But then I read online that mother ducks have to wet their feathers – to maintain a certain level of humidity for the developing eggs.

So I went out and bought a kiddie pool.


Slid it in only a few feet away from the nest and filled it up with water.


If you look really closely you will see her gray round head (looks like a smooth, gray rock) poking out about half way between the short and long swatches of sunlight on the left side of the picture.

There you see the pool, under the spruce tree, from a distance.


Now the mama duck could step off her nest, take a few hops for a quick dip and then hop back to her nest. It’s a tough job, sitting on those eggs, and I could help her here.

I then called the local animal shelter because I had heard they had a bird expert on staff. I talked to the receptionist.

“We have this wild duck nesting in our back yard under our spruce tree. Don’t you have an expert there who can tell me how I can help her?’

“No. He’s not in right now, but I can help you.”

“Yeah? What should I do?”

“Leave her alone.”


(I really didn’t have too many heads working on this duck problem since David was out of town for several days – uh, now you know about the pool, honey.)

So, as not to look completely stupid (to the duck if no-one else) and not create a breeding ground for mosquitos, I got rid of the pool … as quietly as I could – (by rigourously splashing the water out of it with my hand and thrashing the pool around to where it was finally empty enough to drag it out of there.) I gave the pool to a friend with small children.

I checked on the duck every evening.


She is very well camouflaged, but if you look carefully under the lower extending limb you can see her.

Along about 7 PM the sun was far enough west that she could bask in it.


I’d see her head, poking out of the nest, illuminated with sunshine. But I couldn’t capture it in a photo.

I planted flowers.


Rudy was invariably out in the yard with me. I’d keep an eye on him. He’d be this normal flopped-out-hanging-with-the-pack dog, then suddenly morph into a bird-dog


Pointing right at the duck.

“NO, RUDY!!” “COME!!” “TREAT!!”

I had bought him special new ‘Stay away from the duck” treats.


Crunchy with Real Pomegranate! YUM!

“EAT IT, RUDY. No, you’re not getting Bacon Cheese Beggin’ Strips!”

Well, Rudy flushed the duck out one morning last week. Right in front of my nose. She flew up over the house and I corralled him into the house, scolding him profusely. The duck landed right back in our yard, looked in all directions, then hop, hop, hopped (she ran, really) back to her nest. Whew!

I’ve spent a lot of time in discussions with Rudy as to why he doesn’t need to go out.


We’ve been eating dinner on the back deck with the duck nesting in the background.


David, Glen, Megan, me, and Rudy.

I told my neighbors across the street, Marion and Armand, about the duck and how I expected the eggs to hatch around June 26.

I checked on the duck last night. Ran the back sprinklers just for her, because the temperature topped 90 degrees yesterday.

I was out deadheading flowers this morning. Left with Megan about noon to run some errands. Pulled back into the driveway a little after 2PM. We weren’t in the house 1 minute when my cell phone rang. It was Marion from across the street.

“Jody, quick!” Your duck was just in our yard with her ducklings!”


“Armand is following her and taking pictures!”

I dashed out the front door. The duck and her 5 ducklings had already reached the house on the corner of our street – I snapped a photo quick as I could –


Not the best photo you’ve ever seen of a mother duck and her ducklings, but before I took another photo I thought, “Megan can’t miss this!” and ran home and got Megan. We ran back to where I had left the ducks maybe 90 seconds before and now there was no sign of them. We ran further – looked all around. No sign of her and her ducklings. Armand had gone home. WHAT? Was that it? Was that really OUR duck?

I ran back to the nest.



Sure enough. The babies had hatched all right. And to think when they hatched I was going to be sure and open our gate to let them through!


Well, that mama duck and her babies were at least headed in the right direction – toward a canal just two blocks west of us. Of course, they have to cross a busy street. (Make Way ….!!!)

I feel a little sad that she’s gone. But at least I can freely let the dog out now. I don’t mind a bit his chasing the squirrels.


Our Piano

July 13, 2010

We recently sold our Yamaha C-7, 7’4″ concert grand piano. It had been in our family for over 17 years, giving us countless hours of enjoyment, filling the house with its beautiful sound.

When we first purchased the piano in 1993, we lived in a good-sized house in Augusta, Georgia. We had a room just for our piano. Our two sons, Aaron and Ben, and I were taking lessons from a retired Julliard-grad concert pianist who had hand-picked this piano for us to practice on and to hopefully blossom into accomplished pianists.

We learned sonatas, etudes, waltzes, sonatinas, and many other pieces on that piano. We all performed at Music Teachers National Association auditions and the boys advanced to competitions at the Georgia State level. I loved listening to Ben’s Chopin Etude in F Major filling the house, and Aaron’s Sonata by Soler.

David had taken years of lessons growing up and would sit at the piano and play, too. Sometimes we’d gather around the piano and sing while he played.

I’ve had a piano in my life as far back as I can remember. Growing up, my family owned an old 6 1/2-foot black baby grand that stood all polished and regal in one corner of our formal living room. Except it had a broken sound board – we must have inherited it with the big old house my parents bought to accomodate all eight kids? I don’t know. But we would bang on that piano, and it must have sounded bad, because my mother would invariably yell from wherever she was in the house, “Get off the piano!”

So I had played a little growing up – I could bang out ‘chopsticks’ and a few simple tunes by ear.

I decided to enroll in lessons with our sons when I hit forty. Of course, I soon learned that (like just about everything else) playing piano well requires consistent practice, dedication, and discipline. I got several pieces under my fingers – Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, the Bach Prelude that accompanies Ave Maria, a Chopin Waltz in A Minor (well, sort of – could never play it up to tempo or get contol of one section of it, no matter how much I practiced).

The boys got some fine pieces under their fingers, which won them awards at the state level.

That was then, in Augusta. The boys grew up, of course. Aaron left for college, and Ben abandoned piano for guitar. I stopped taking lessons. As a 40-ish beginner my fingers lacked facility. (That was my main excuse for quitting, I suppose, other than it proved harder work and less fun to learn to play piano than I had bargained for.)

In 2000 we bought a house in Idaho – 2200 miles from Augusta – and had to manage the move ourselves. I flew to Idaho from Augusta with Ben and Megan while David loaded a 28-foot U-Haul truck and drove it across country – twice! Of course, I just couldn’t bear the thought of leaving the piano behind. On his second trip David had to hire piano movers to load the 800+ -lb piano onto the truck in Georgia, then drive it across, and hire another crew to get the piano off the truck in Idaho.

We decorated our formal living room in Idaho around the grand piano. And the piano looked magnificent and regal in our formal living room. Its rich sound filled the house. Except, none of us, uh, played much. When I did play, it could sound pretty bad, because I was so out of practice, and thoughts filled my head of others in the house wanting to yell at me, “Get off the piano!” – because it was so loud. Maybe that’s an excuse. I found lots of excuses not to play that magnificent piano that had been such an integral part of our family for so long.

The piano is gone now and I’m missing it. We sold it to a professional jazz pianist in Provo, Utah, who is ecstatic to have it and plays the piano as it was meant to be played – probably five hours a day. It’s a long story about how we happened to sell it. I know it was the right thing to do. Except for right now. I’m missing it and all the beautiful piano pieces that filled our house over the years, pieces that flowed out of that piano from underneath my sons’, my husband’s, and even my fingers.

I played the piano for over an hour on the day it was leaving us. And I photographed it from across the room:

It’s pretty hard to capture the whole piano in a close-up:

I took some photos after the movers arrived, as it is quite an ordeal to move a 7′ 4″ grand piano.

Here you see Greg, one of the movers, playing it in our house for the last time,

while his partner examines how the legs are tethered.

They’ve got it wrapped now, have dismembered one leg, and are taking it down.

They strap it to the dolly,

and maneuver it into our front entry

where it nearly gets stuck.

Ten minutes later they’ve gotten it through our front door

and out onto the sidewalk, where they have to turn it around.

There it goes onto the truck.

Farewell O’ Fairest Grand Piano!

You didn’t think I could really just sell that piano and live without one now, did you? (which are the exact words I said to David when we sold it.) For nearly two weeks we had two pianos. You see, after we sold the grand piano, but well before the movers came to get it, I found a slightly used upright studio piano for sale on Craig’s list.

Albeit, it doesn’t even begin to compare in sound to the 7 ‘ 4″ grand. But we have downsized the piano. You know, in case we decide to retire and move into a condo.

Yeah, like I’m going to give up this house.

The Package

January 8, 2009

This event happened on January 6th.  I’m thinking I could fill a category on my blog with “stupid events” which seem to be occurring with increased regularity.

Our son was flying home again after spending Christmas with us. His suitcase was overflowing and  I offered to ship his extra stuff to him. Right after he left I found the perfect box in the basement and  arranged his things in it just  so … a hardback book, a flashlight,  fleece jacket.  I drove the four blocks to the UPS store and  shipped the package, proud that I had gotten it off  so quickly.   I e-mailed our son, “Your package is due to arrive by Friday.  Love, Mom.”    I knew he would be needing his fleece.

The very next day  a UPS truck arrived in  front of our house with a good sized package.  I looked out and wondered, was it a late Christmas package?

The doorbell rang and our dog  went berserk with barking.  I held the dog while opening the door and dragged the package inside with my right foot.  It was quite heavy, from a printing company, I noticed.  Ink cartridges?

“Did you order ink cartridges?” I asked my husband when he arrived home from work.  “No.” he replied.  “Well, yes, I did. We got them a few weeks ago.”

He slit open the box and out popped a flashlight, hardback book, stuff that was … our son’s.  “What the heck?”  My husband flipped the package over. On the bottom  was our son’s address.  On the top was our address.  It was the same box we had received several weeks ago from the printing company.  It had contained ink cartridges.

“If you’re gonna reuse boxes for shipping …,” my husband began.  “I know!”  I cut him off, perturbed.  “I mail packages all the time!”

The next day I returned to the UPS store with my son’s package.  I explained about how it was supposed to go 2200 miles but only went four blocks.  Well, by now it had traveled  twelve blocks, when you added up the three trips to and from the UPS store from our house.

Our son’s  package has shipped again.  It  is due to arrive at his apartment next Monday.  In the meantime,  I’ll be highly suspicious of any UPS truck pulling up in front of our house.