I watched the twin nesting boxes for days in April. Cold wind blasted rain against the house windows. Then it snowed. Bluebirds were late. Would they ever come?
Years ago, my husband Vic rebuilt a remnant of an old barnyard fence near the house. While I helped clear the brush, he hammered new posts in the ground. I held the posts steady as he nailed a bluebird nesting box at each end of the railing. In the house, Vic set up the telescope we bought to watch the phases of Venus and the moons of Jupiter. He focused it on the door of the closest nesting box. We waited, but not for long. Cardinals, sparrows, and finches perched on the railing. Bluebirds and tree swallows arrived in a few days and argued over the houses before settling in.
We loved the swallow’s graceful swoops and soaring, but bluebirds grabbed our imagination. Every spring we focused the telescope on the house they chose.
“Look, V, she’s taking sticks into the box,” I called.
“He’s feeding her worms” Vic said stepping back from the telescope so I could have a turn. “Smart guy.”
“Hey, V, the bluebirds are back,” I yelled the spring after Vic’s stem cell transplant. Bluebirds mattered more than ever then. They brought faith when we lost courage.
“Hope is the thing with feathers/ that perches in the soul…” Emily Dickinson wrote. Or did hope come from childhood memories of “Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly?”
Sometimes we opened the door of the box when the parents were out and counted the pale blue eggs or admired the naked nestlings. We rejoiced over bright blue flashing feathers as the male brought worms and insects to his mate and their brood. We watched the parents nurture, guard, and mother. We were reassured.
Some years predators ate the baby birds. After the parents abandoned a raided nest, I cleaned the box, set up barriers for ants and snakes, and closed the door. In days, bluebirds moved back in and laid a new clutch of eggs. They did not give up.
In May 2008, I looked through the telescope to check the bluebirds before driving Vic to the hospital. As I paused, I exhaled my prayer to Divine Mother, the Life Giver, the Protector, the Feminine Face of God.
This morning, I watched the bluebird boy perch on the roof of the nesting box. I focused my camera as the female swooped in, fluttered her way into the box, and turned to look around. Later she brought sticks to build a nest.
The bluebirds plan to try again this year. So will I.
What brings you hope in the spring? Flowers, birds, warm temperatures? If you love birds, check out the Cornell Labratory of Ornithology live bird cameras. For other posts about my land, see Flowers, Butterflies, and Bees on my Finger Lakes Land or Healed by Nature, Inspired by Love.