One Busy Mom

by Lilyana Page | Aug 1, 2023 | 0 comments

Common Grackle female feeding juvenile
Female Common Grackle feeding a fledgling. Photo © Olivia Seger/Dreamstime.com.

Out in the sunny yard, a Common Grackle flies toward the cedar shrub. Perching on top, she looks around cautiously. Suddenly, she pops into the bush.

Would you like to know where she went? Let’s look inside and see!

“Chuck,” she says when we peek inside. Mrs. Grackle is sitting on a nest that she crafted from grass and small sticks, among other things. The nest is cupped like a bowl.

After Mrs. Grackle leaves the nest, we see one small pale blue egg with dark speckles and splotches sprinkled over the shell.

Mama Grackle lays one egg every day until she has four little eggs. Then she begins to sit. She won’t leave the nest for roughly two weeks, except to find something to eat. She must keep the eggs warm if they are going to hatch.

On day twelve, Mama Grackle hears a little peep from under her. She ruffles her feathers excitedly. It is almost time!

One baby bird hatches that day; the other three hatch the next. Baby birds seem to be always hungry, so Mama Grackle is kept busy searching for worms and bugs to feed her noisy brood. They each try to call the loudest, seeming to say, “Pick me, pick me, Mama! I’m really hungry! Peep! Peep! Peep!” Mrs. Grackle is one busy mama.

When the baby grackles are between fourteen and fifteen days out of shell, they begin trying to fly. Let’s go watch!

Teetering on the edge of the nest, baby bird number one flaps her wings. Losing her balance, she topples down, down, down. Just before she hits the ground, she flutters her wings, softening her landing in the thick grass. “Pip! Pip!” she cries, frightened.

Mama Grackle swoops into the grass beside her. “Chuck, Chuck!” she says reassuringly, popping a grasshopper into Baby’s mouth.

One by one, the other babies leave the nest. Mama Grackle has no time to rest. She flies around and around the yard looking for bugs and worms. Then she flies to her nearest fledgling and stuffs her find into the baby’s wide open beak.

One baby is over by the maple, one is on the front lawn. One is hiding in a clump of daisies. Another is venturing toward the road. “Chuck, chuck! No, not there, Baby! It isn’t safe,” Mama Grackle cries.

Flying to his side, her feathers flashing bronze and purple in the sunlight, she coaxes him away from the dangerous road with a juicy worm.

“Pip!” says the contented baby, wandering off to explore a patch of bright yellow dandelions.

When Mama Grackle and her now not-so-little babies finally head southward for the winter months, she can finally relax. No more chasing adventurous babies through the tall grass. They are grown up enough now to take care of themselves. Next spring, she will do the same thing over again, but for now, she is going to enjoy a well-deserved rest somewhere warm.

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