A female cardinal made her nest deep inside the thorny confines of one my rosebushes in early August. The rosebush is an old variety, over six feet tall now and almost as wide, and filled with a million small yellow flowers in June. It’s also growing right next to my vegetable garden, which it’s always threatening to invade with new shoots.
I had seen the cardinal flying in and out of the bush when I was tending the garden. Being an old rose, every stem and branch is thick with very sharp thorns. I could imagine it would be a smart and safe place for the mother bird to build a nest, provided she could get inside. It proved almost impossible for me, that’s for sure, or at least very unpleasant.
I did manage to take a peek at the one fledging I saw. But I was too afraid to disturb the nest more and have the mother bird abandon it. So I waited.
Eventually, as the month wore on, she stopped coming. I have a small collection of nests I’ve gathered, and I put on my gloves and dug my way into the bush again to see about adding this one to the group. I stuck my camera in first to take a picture and make sure the nest was truly empty. But it wasn’t.
One last, lone egg remained. I knew it was a cardinal egg from the brown speckles on white. It had most likely been laid at the same time as the fledgling I’d found, but remained unhatched. Sometimes that is the way of nature, I know, some things are born and survive, and some simply don’t. So instead of mourning the loss of the baby bird inside, I took joy in seeing the delicate beauty of the egg itself, still pristine and perfect in it’s unhatched state.