On a bright and sunny afternoon, Rick and I ran out to do some food shopping. When we got back we discovered that 2 of the babies had left the nest. Mom continued to feed the two that remained. I was a little disheartened that I'd missed their leaving, but I still had 2 more to go! The rest of that day Mom continued taking care of the remaining chicks and she hopped back into the nest that night.
The next morning I hurried down to the computer just in time to see one of the babies do a "whirly bird" down to the ground and go hopping off on it's own. Mom and Dad were nowhere to be found, but the little guy seemed to know where to go and hopped along (they can't really fly well yet)...We watched as it took off first hopping...then flying a foot or two...then increasing to about 3 feet...We thought he was testing out his wings and teaching himself to fly! I was so happy to have caught one as they left! I'd invested many hours watching, (which also tells you that I spent many hours on my computer...LOL)
Still there was one left. Mom showed up to feed it. Good...I was happy she was around! And I continued watching. It seemed the last one was not in a hurry to leave. By mid-afternoon I realized no one had showed up to feed the little guy in over an hour. I looked around and saw Dad sitting on the woodpile by the garage chirping. He sat there for almost 45 minutes, just watching the nest. Finally Mom showed up with a juicy worm, but sat just off the nest and I swear she was trying to coax the last one out onto the rafter! She approached the nest and only allowed half the worm to get to the baby. Then she sat back on the end of the rafter with half a worm hanging out of her beak and waited for him to come get the rest! He did...and within a minute he was also "whirly birding" it down to the ground. Mom hopped off behind the garage and the baby followed. Later, we caught a glimpse of the entire family "in and under" some bushes behind the garage. Mom and Dad were teaching them how to catch worms and feed themselves.
It was a great experience for me! And Rick rather enjoyed it too! He was able to see the third one as it taught itself to fly (he missed it leaving the nest)...but...he did see the fourth one as I was calling him to come watch as soon as I realized that Mom was coaxing the final one off the ledge!