Where to start? Well, R.B. (who wouldn’t use initials when your given name is “Red-Bellied”?) has been heard so often that we began to pay closer to attention to him and made a wonderful discovery. Jon’s sharp eyes caught him fifty feet up on one of those geriatric black locust trees, only to see R.B. disappear. A closer look revealed a small hole and - abracadabra - a cavity nest!! Well, that explained why I could never spot him even though I had heard his four distinct raspy quonks immediately before: he was saying “Honey, I’m home!”
So now I am developing a permanent kink in my neck from reclining under said tree, focusing my long lens on that exciting front door. Doesn’t it turn out that R.B. is not only a faithful husband, but an excellent provider as well. Mr and Mrs take turns in the cavity but the nestlings must be old enough to leave, because often both parents are gone at once. They return within a few minutes with something juicy, alive and dark — a chrysalis, perhaps - and about as big as their beaks can manage. I feel like a proud granny.
Would you please extend my apologies to Mr. Chickadee, Mr. Tanager and Mr. Oriole as well. In my house, the standard apology (always delivered under duress) is “I am a stunned pickle. You were right and I was wrong. I will never doubt your word again.” Consider it said, fellas.
By way of making amends, here is a photo of a happy marriage: