You know how the story goes. It’s summer in the Hamptons and everyone is scrambling for somewhere to live. Rentals are expensive and affordable housing is about as scarce as a Brazilian bottom bikini that looks good on anyone over 50. But hey, we all need a nest. The locals know the moment it happens, when the renters move in next door. And next it is the noise. At 5 AM. At first, I think it is the smoke alarm battery that is chirping but no it is actual chirping. Clearly, I am living next to an “air” bnb.
Every year small birds with very loud voices pick the flower box right outside my bedroom window to build their nest. I see the mama bird (apparently no surprise it is often the females that are the nest builders) flying around with small twigs and bits of moss in her mouth. I politely try to shoo her away for lack of a building permit but she will not be deterred. As someone for whom “assembly required” translates to “back away slowly. There is no way this will resemble the picture and you will probably injure yourself,” I am in awe.
So being the animal lover that I am, I start to feel very protective of this petite burgeoning family in my care. I have to stop watering the flowers in the flower box because it drives mama bird mad. And I almost forget about the organic tick spray for the yard until I run outside in my nightgown channeling my inner Rachel Carson as the man with the mask heads onto the property and I scream, “No!” If you are supposed to keep small children and animals inside then leaving baby birds exposed is unacceptable.
While my tiny charges have no compunction about disturbing me, I tiptoe around and make sure there are no bright lights or noises near the window. I read by the light of my phone and only watch period dramas with no car crashes or explosions on Netflix. If there were a Nestflix channel I would just leave that on with “Lady Bird,” “Black Swan,” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
One day I hear a great racket from both mama bird, and low and behold, a baby bird has managed to escape the nest but only to the outdoor table where it is flapping its downy wings and yelping. I am desperate to help.
Do all baby birds learn to fly or are some mobility challenged? Can I bring up a “how to fly” video on YouTube? I watch with concern for a while but then have to leave and when I return the frustrated fledgling is still on the table with no parent around. I call Marders to ask if they carry organic baby bird food then move on to a bait and tackle shop to see about worms. (Do not criticize, I fed the stray cat line-caught tuna and organic milk.)
Thankfully he/she seems to find its way back to the nest so I breath a sigh of relief… Until the torrential rain storm starts. But birds can get wet, right? I mean they are in the trees in the rain all the time. I shouldn’t be concerned. But I see the water rising in the box and I grab my portable umbrella and some duct tape to rig it outside the window to divert the deluge. Of course, that also diverts the rainwater inside to drench my bureau.
When the next day all is quiet, I am concerned. I want to get close enough to the nest to look inside but I know you’re not supposed to touch a nest and I also don’t have the stomach to see drowned baby birds inside. After a few sunny days and chirp-free mornings I decide to take a look inside but there is no sign or life, or death.
I hope that the baby birds simply learned how to fly and are now heading to Goldberg’s hoping for some bagel crumbs. But now I am an empty nester. And I feel a bit sad. But I don’t clear out the nest or replant the flowers because you know, it’s August in the Hamptons and for sure it will get rebooked.