Mother's column: the miracle of breeding birds
It all starts with a homework assignment from Martha. She has to watch breeding birds via a live stream on the website of the Vogelbescherming (Bird Protection organisation in the Netherlands) and answer some questions about it. Via webcams, people can watch the bird families 24 hours a day. That way, we stand face to face with the miracles of creation.
Martha's homework is long done, but we keep returning to the website. I learn a lot from it myself too. For example, a black bird whose head is not entirely black but also grey is not a crow but a jackdaw. The jackdaws do not look too friendly at the first encounter. They have piercing eyes and a curved beak. But the loyalty of the female is remarkable. Continually she breeds her eggs. Also, the male is very caring; every time he appears at the nest. Sometimes he brings some twigs to make it even more beautiful; other times, he feeds the female.
Furthermore, a nest with blackbirds draws our attention. Every time the mother or father appears, the baby birds chirp and open their beaks incredibly wide. During the whole day, the parent birds feed them worms. No wonder they grow like weeds. After efleven days, the nest is empty. The birds are gone. Fortunately, the special moment is recorded, and we can replay the time that the blackbirds jump out of the nest.
Our next object of interest is the peregrine falcon. One day, four cute white baby birds break out of the orange eggs. Not everything is that cute: we see father falcon bringing in a young bird – it even seems to be a blackbird. Mother falcon tears the prey skilfully into tiny pieces and divides them to the little birds.
And then, the nest with the jackdaws – our jackdaws – is hit by a disaster. A stone-marten breaks into the nesting box and devours both the eggs and the mother jackdaw. Together with the children, I emotionally watch the live stream from the nesting box, where only a few feathers and twigs are left.
The book of nature contains shocking images. I talk a bit more about it with the kids. Sin destroyed so much! Creation groans. But one day, everything will be new. Then death is swallowed up in victory. Then both the stone marten and the jackdaw will live in peace together.
Mother’s column: Uncle Keith had a working life, but has gone into the sabbath now
Mother’s column: Life is a party, oh yes!