Regular readers of this blog know that there is nothing, nothing, nothing that pleases me more than being able to tell the whole story. No matter how many days, weeks, months or years may come between the inception (Piper's arriving in April 2012, staking claim to the yard in July, singing on the farm bell, Mrs. Piper's building a nest on July 30, the incubation of her eggs and eventual hatch of two young on August 14, their growth and fledging on Day 10, August 24)...and the satisfying conclusion of the story. Sometimes you don't get that satisfying conclusion. Sometimes you luck out and you do. (I'm thinking of Shelly the box turtle, who came back a whole year later; I'm thinking of the gray tree frog eggs that finally became froglets; I'm thinking of the rose gentian that finally bloomed, two years later; I'm remembering Garrett the red-headed woodpecker and that magical winter (s)he spent with us...will she come back in 2012?)
The trick is being there for it, watching for it, being ready for the moment. So when Bill and I, doing some morning tower birding, spotted Mrs. Piper accompanied by two begging fledglings way out in the prairie patch in the sideyard, I went on high alert. Got a lot of photos of them as hopeless dark dots. It was September 9, 2012, and the babies, not seen since they were a rather reptilian 10 days old, would now be 26 days old. Ohhhh I wanted a photo of one of those little reptiles, transformed into a bird. But they wouldn't come any closer, and I was loath to break up the family breakfast by walking closer. Eventually it was time for me to head downstairs. Bill stayed up in the tower awhile longer. And shouted down, "ZICK! They've moved to the north border! Look in the sassafrases!"
An earlier stage of molt, the brown basic plumage just starting to come in. I saw streaks of brown running down Piper's blue breast.
"It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice."
--sign over the work table of a man named Jeno, who was a master cabinet maker at Boswell Lumber in Somerset Co., PA in the 1970s, and who unfailingly dropped whatever he was doing to help a young boy turn rough drawings of his latest idea for a custom bird feeder or nest box into well-fitting pieces that could be assembled into the real thing!