Busted left wing

Female bluebird in the nesting bopxWednesday, there were four eggs in the bluebird nest. Thursday, I didn’t check. Friday evening, the eggs were gone. Nary a sign. No chicks, no shells. Nothing but ne(s)t.

I turned around on the slide up which I had walked to view the nest mounted to the roof of the children’s play structure. I guess I slid, because that’s what one does on a slide, lost my balance and crashed into the garden, on the way becoming tangled in the plastic netting effective at keeping out rabbits and neighbor’s cats but not so much a 260-pound lummox trying to walk on slippery slides.

It’s said that falls among people 65 and older are responsible for a large portion of emergency room visits. The doctor says my busted arm bone should be useable in six to 10 weeks.

I’m reminded of a quote from John Muir, one of the people responsible for the National Park System: “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to the rest of the world.”

It’s one arm. I have two of them, so I should be only a little hampered. And it’s not even the whole arm, just the shoulder end of one bone. There are 206 bones that give shape to what we recognize as the adult human body. And yet the effect of one end of one injured arm on the well-feeling of the whole rest of the body is truly amazing. Between the botherment of the injury and the spaced-out drugs to hide it, doing what I do becomes an elongated, sometimes painful process of one-handed clapping (amply demonstrated at the Totem Pole Playhouse Saturday night).

Meanwhile, the bluebirds on which I had been attempting to spy were not home. Wednesday there were four eggs. Friday they were gone. No baby birds. No eggs, nor even egg shells. Just a perfectly rounded empty bowl formed of White Pine needles.

Which offers a puzzle. Where did they go, that mama and papa and four potential kiddies? Incubation is about 10-14 days. The eggs were laid June 7, so there is no way they fledged and flew away.

A cat could get to the bird house, but I can’t believe it could get to the eggs without leaving behind some indication of carnage, yet not even a piece of blue shell remains.

We have an excessive population of House Sparrows. They uphold the reputation of invasive species world wide. They take over nesting areas, even when they have no intention of building their own egg beds. A few live here year round, so when migrating populations begin their spring arrivals, the bullies already have established possession.

And I have watched some of their ilk actually attack nest-building bluebirds. Mostly the little brown guys lose the battle, but not always. If one is clever enough to get inside the nest box — well, possession, as they say, is nine tenths.

The good news has been our bluebirds have been smart enough to hang back, waiting for the sparrow to make the inevitable search for food and drink.

Highest on my suspect list is a black rat snake. A few have been found where I live. They climb trees in search of bird nests, and even a fully grown specimen would fit through an entrance hole large enough for a bluebird.

And swallowing eggs likely would leave no mess.

There is much I don’t know, and plenty of time to stake out possible answers. After all, with this busted left wing of mine, kayaking and motorcycling are out of the question. Watching for an interloper slipping into the bluebird nest could prove profitable.

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