Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Intrusive photography takes a bad turn

Ugh. I feel just horrible about this. The guilt is eating me up.

I went outside with the girls after dinner to enjoy the evening and water the garden. I brought the camera to take some pictures of the sprouts that are actually shooting up. In spite of the clay, rocks and otherwise impossibly hard chunky ground.

I became distracted by a baby stellar jay who was on the ground nearby. I could hear the mother jay making a real ruckus in the trees above it and didn't like me coming in closer for a picture one little bit.

I then remembered that B.Rube had told me about some baby robins in the barn that I should get some pictures of, so we headed there. Sure enough, one of the nests that we've been watching for weeks was chock full of babies, spilling out the top. I stood on a milk crate to give myself an extra foot and started to snap some pictures.

There they are. But, that's too far away. I'll get in a bit closer. The mom and dad robins are outside the barn in an absolute panic watching me move in on their babies.

Cute. But, I can get closer than that. They don't seem to be too bothered by me.

Closer yet. They're so cute. Look at those big bulging eyes. (Don't get too attached. They are about to meet a tragic end.)

Suddenly, the babies jump and flap and fall and flutter. In that instant, all I hear are birds chirping, wings flapping and little bird bodies hitting walls and roof and wiring. I jump off the milk crate and duck out of the barn. The babies have jumped from the nest. The adult robins are freaking out! Flying and shrieking. I notice two of the babies are now on the ground outside the barn. Still trying to flap and fly. Instead, kinda hopping. One of them hops over and ends up in a bit of a puddle. Fuck. I debate picking it up and putting it back in the nest. Damn. Damn. Damn. I've totally interfered where I shouldn't have. And I've created a horrible situation.

I cringe. and turn around to shuffle T.Rube out of the barnyard. That's when I see the big raven with the baby in its mouth. He drops to the ground and begins to tear into it. If I thought that the adult robins were upset before, nothing had prepared me for the panic and grief I was seeing now. My heart just dropped.

I have no idea what the full extent of damage is. I have not been brave enough to face what I have done by returning to the barn; too scared to realize that the nest is completely empty; that my innocent attempt to photograph the cute babies lead to the death of all of them. I learned a valuable lesson tonight.


Anonymous said...

Awh........one blog I would rathered to "NOT" see the pictures of explanation. Kept thinking of those poor little birds all night.
Sorry J.Rube....you were correct to scold yourself.
Are there any left?
Ma Ma P

J.Rube said...

I made B.Rube check out the nest the next morning and it was empty. But, he tells me that babies don't return to their nest after their first leap anyway. So, I am choosing to go with the (perhaps naive and erroneous) belief that at least a couple of the babies survived. They were pretty mature babies, so it could be....

marcelle said...


I'm sorry, J.

That sucks. I have a nest with two baby hummingbirds that I check out every evening in my backyard. I think I'm going to be leaving them alone from now on.

Anonymous said...

OK -- I'm now going to imagine that they are off and flying around BC with their Ma-Ma.
Thanks...needed a new image in my head...so I can sleep tonight.
Ma-Ma P

Magnolia said...

Oh my gosh J.Rube. It was an accident. Yes...maybe you did get too close...but you were not being malicious...or cruel in your intent. So cut yourself some slack about it. Really.
And I think some probably made it. I'm sure the momma and poppa came to the rescue.

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