Cardinal birds mate several times over the course of a summer. Like their winged relative, the chicken, cardinal hens will lay eggs often, raise the chicks, toss them from the nest, and repeat the cycle several times before the sun’s warmth weakens and the weather turns towards the coolness of autumn.
Only two baby birds were conceived in the first laying of eggs which occurred this spring in a back lot of Kosciuszko Street in Brooklyn. I regret to report that one of the little birds did not survive this damp summer in the Northeast. I listened to their songs and cries for more food every day – so sad after all of that fuss one didn’t make it into the heavens. I kept a close eye on them to ensure the cats did not devour the birds—but it was the rain that killed one of the feathered creatures.
I knew better than to try and revive that little bird that fell out of the nest and nearly drowned in a mud puddle near my patch of zucchini. I should have just left it there to die and decompose—it would have been good for the soil.
It was a horrendous thunderstorm that killed that little bird and obviously the cause for the two birds to leave the nest before being grown enough to fly. Laying on his back, gasping for air through its miniscule beak, that little bird was covered in water—I had to do something. It was my tabby cat that discovered the baby bird in the mud—the hatchling wasn’t stirring enough to entice the cat for a chase—the cat just stared—feeling almost sorry for it as I was.
Fuck it. I picked it up and wrapped in an old dish cloth from the kitchen, brought it inside and kept it under a lamp. The little bird seemed to come back to life as I stroked the soft plumage.
At 3 a.m. that baby bird started to sing from its box in the living room. There he was with his little mouth open—crying for food again. Quickly, I took it outside and put it in the garden where the hen and father bird were still attempting to teach the other bird how to fly.
They abandoned the little thing—not offering as much as a little crumb of a sunflower seed for its gaping mouth.
In less than an hour, it died under the warm glow of June sunshine next to the yellow blossoms of my zucchini plants.
I turned stone cold myself as I buried the baby bird right under that nest, wishing I had not gotten involved in playing god to the descendants of the dinosaurs.
But they are back—the adult birds—fluttering around again in that nest up there—laying another round of eggs—but this time there are two male birds fussing over that one hen up there in the cherry tree—I would have assumed cardinal birds were monogamous considering they are the color of love, but not the ones in Brooklyn—they seem only concerned with the survival of the species– either that or cardinals are gay too.