This summer, as is usually our practice, we put a variety of houseplants out on the front porch to replenish their growth after the long winter indoors. One of those houseplants is a Norfolk Island Pine that we use as a Christmas tree. Now that the kids have moved away, our need for a full-sized tree has gone with them, and this little tree is perfect for us.
In June, our little tree was noticed by a most industrious little bird that was badly in need of a new nest. This bird, a beautiful female Cardinal, could barely fly due to the eggs she was carrying yet some small twigs began to appear in our tree. At first, we thought it might be debris from a recent storm and so we cleaned them out. However, they continued to appear and, within a very few days a completed nest was securely lodged in our little tree. This bird, who we named Myrtle, then became a permanent resident in our tree on our front porch.
Within a few days, Myrtle laid her eggs. She and her handsome red mate tended the nest for the next 10 days until her three eggs hatched. The process of feeding them began in the most interesting fashion. Both Myrtle and her mate would go about gathering food for the fledglings. While Myrtle fed her young, her mate would fly “cover” and signal with a unique “chirp” if danger was approaching. While her mate was feeding the young, Myrtle would do the same. In this case, “danger” usually meant that one of us was on the front porch.
In less than a month from the time that Myrtle began building her nest, the fledglings were on their way and learning to fly. The whole process was fascinating to watch and much different from what we were taught in grade school. We still see some young cardinals, 2 female and 1 male, fly around the porch to say hello to us. Maybe they are just seeing if the old homestead is still there. The Norfolk Island Pine is growing nicely in the warm summer sunshine, but the nest is long gone.
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