Of Happiness

Someone should sponsor a study of the beneficial health effects of looking at bluebirds. Something primal—an ancient, latent spark inside that dearly loves a flash of blue—awakens. It's deep. It's potent. It's Happy as Hell. Bottle that, and the world's problems are solved.Most years, the tree swallows (lovely in their own right) bully the shy bluebirds out of the boxes we have designated for them—for who are we to decide such things?

It's a psychodrama (for me) every year. But this spring, in a bird house half-hidden by shrubs, a flash of blue informed us that a bluebird had moved in, and over the next few weeks we saw him swerving down from his fence post to feed and traveling about with his more subtly colored mate.

In mid-June, things began to seem mighty quiet at the box and I began to have an uneasy feeling about the state of affairs at Bluebird Manor. At first, I kept my distance, respecting the birds' private nature, until one afternoon curiosity got the better of me and I peeked into the entry hole and saw a glimpse of wing—unmoving—in an upright position inside the box. It occurred to me that either the bird inside was dead or was posturing defensively in response to my presence.

I waited a few days and watched the box for a sign of life that never came. Finally, I investigated and found the female dead in the nest, with an egg partially protruding from her body. I headed home in despair, googled something along the lines of "bluebird dead laying egg" and learned of a condition known as "egg bound" or "egg binding," wherein a bird is unable to pass her egg and dies.

Spending time in the country offers the pleasure of almost overwhelming exposure to a seemingly endless array of life forms (it beats Star Trek by miles, light years, and warp speeds), but there's plenty of death to go with all the living. The balance, while sometimes painful, is good—a reminder of that which we need reminding of.

Still, I was disturbed by the female's probably painful death, disappointed that we'd have no young ones this year, and kind of heartbroken to think of this lovely bird making the long migration north, mating, and nest-building only to die in childbirth. It's a lot of effort for these sweet creatures to go through, and it hurts to see it end sadly, for the blue or any other bird.

Seeing the male around in the weeks that followed gave me additional pangs. Would Mr. Bluebird remarry? Was he too traumatized to consider a new mate, if there were new mates to be found? What did he make of his sad fate? Anthropomorphizing madly, as I unashamedly do, gave me a different kind of blues.

Fast forward three or four weeks. I awaken, put on my glasses, glance out the bedroom window and see...it can't be...three exquisite young bluebirds balancing precariously on the clothesline. With an adult male and female accompanying them. No idea how this came about or what the back story is, but here they are, and all week I've barely been able to do a thing besides watch—and rejoice in—baby bluebirds.

1 comment:

Eva Yaa Asantewaa said...

Oh, this is wonderful! Thanks for this story and these images! You are blessed!