Baby cardinals have hatched in our backyard. It started several weeks ago when a cardinal pair were flitting around, building their nest in the weeping cherry tree. Although the tree is akin to a high traffic rest stop for a variety of birds, the intertwining, hanging branches created a nice, secluded nest nook for the cardinals.
Once the baby cardinals were born, the parents were on high alert feeding and taking care of the babies. Whenever someone walked in the vicinity of the weeping cherry tree, the cardinal warning alarm “chip, chip, chip” would deploy. Today, I set off what sounded like a four-alarm cardinal emergency. Both mom and dad cardinal began to angrily “chip” at me, even though I wasn’t anywhere near the tree with their nest. After a minute, I realized that one of the babies was out of the nest. It was clinging to a small branch on a tree behind the lawn chair where I was sitting. I quickly snapped a few photos before retreating back inside the house to silence the bird alarm.
Seeing the baby cardinal hatched out into the world reminded me of a hatching incident we had with praying mantises. A few years ago, my husband was trimming bushes to tidy up the yard before winter set in. As my son helped gather the cuttings, he noticed that egg cases from praying mantises were attached to some of the branches. He gathered almost a dozen egg cases and put them into a small, plastic critter keeper.
As winter ensued, the critter keeper was placed in the garage and forgotten about. It was found again by my son right before spring. He took it out of the garage and brought it inside to take a closer look. After having been exposed to freezing temperatures all winter, it looked like no life would ever spring forth from the egg cases. Instead of returning it to the garage, the critter keeper with the egg cases was inadvertently placed on the floor in the kitchen — next to the cast iron baseboard heater (i.e., incubator!). A few days later, I was putting away groceries and noticed movement on the kitchen wall. I ignored it until it caught my eye a second time. I walked over for a look and saw a teeny, tiny praying mantis on the wall. It took a few seconds, but slowly I became cognizant of the fact that there was movement EVERYWHERE.
There were almost a hundred baby praying mantises in our house — on the kitchen wall, on the floor, in the dining room, on the sliding glass doors. They kept hatching and crawling out of the critter keeper. As much as I enjoy observing nature, this did not make me happy. I “calmly” enlisted my son and husband to catch ALL the praying mantises and bring them outside along with the still-hatching egg cases. For days afterwards, we were finding stray praying mantises; a few had even found their way to the upstairs bedroom. In the future, my preference would be to witness babies hatching outdoors, like the cardinals, instead of in the house, like the praying mantises.