Saturday, May 28, 2005

Some Good, Some Bad

The bad news is, I wasn't able to take any more candid pix of the birdies. The good news is, it's because they developed so quickly that this morning (i.e., three days after I took that picture) they were out of the nest and pumping their wings! It's absolutely miraculous that they could go from near-naked to almost fledged. However, there's more bad news: the littlest one didn't make it. Or won't, I think, by tomorrow morning.

All of today, we've been keeping a close watch (but at a distance; since the day I took pictures, we've not gone close to the nest). In the morning, we both noticed a hilarious sight: the nest would appear to be empty (from our vantage point, on the ground, through binoculars) until one of the parents approached. Whereupon -- POP! -- like tiny jacks-in boxes, three little heads shot straight up, peeping and calling!

Barely two hours later, when we looked again, two of the birdies were out of the nest and sitting on a nearby branch looking around themselves with interest, and preening their minature wings. An hour later, they had flapped and hopped their way further from the nest. The parents, meanwhile, were busy flying back and forth, feeding them as well as the one left behind in the nest. Already, it was beginning to look grim for the third one, now dubbed Scrawny.

The parents continued feeding Scrawny all morning, which looked hopeful. Around three o'clock, he (or she) actually hopped out of the nest for a breather. But it was very clear that he was woefully underdeveloped compared to the other two: completely naked head, no wing feathers to speak of. At four, I saw that he was back inside the nest, and looking out in a wistful way. As if recognizing that this wider world was not for him. A brisk breeze had caught the young bamboo in its grip and kept shaking it, so that the little nest was rocking like a ship in high seas. Nevertheless, I decided I had to take my chances with a picture of Scrawny while he was still alive.

I couldn't get close, the light was fading and the tree was in motion. I had my camera zoomed out to maximum and the result is rather blurred, but I captured this tiny little bird, looking out over the rim of his only home on earth, perhaps for the last time, in a manner that I found deeply poignant. I will try to post the picture here, but I had such a struggle the other day, I'm not confident of getting it done tonight. A small bony head and jutting beak, quite repulsive in its way, but in the upward tilt of its head, in the comfort it sought in its home, I see all that is ever-hopeful and perhaps naive about the life-force.

I know it's very silly of me, but I'm crying as I write this. Of course I know that little birds have to die now and then, and that this one was quite lucky after all that it will (probably) die in its own cosy home tonight. Knowing that doesn't make it less sad. Well, well, well. I better stop this ridiculous sentimentality and see if I can post that picture.