The surprising cruelty of nature

It's always surprising to me, anyway. Maybe some folks are jaded by what happens in nature, but I am always finding a certainly melancholy in natural systems.

This morning, early, I was out in the garden, and I realized I hadn't heard the young in the black-capped chickadee nest in a while. You might remember that there was a family of these birds living in a nest box behind a ribes bush, and I posted a short film of the mother bird visiting the nest.

I figured the birds had grown up and flown the nest, and it would be interesting to take what remained to work, to show the kids. So I opened the box and removed the nest, which was square - it totally filled the box. But sadly, there were two dead chicks on top of the nest.

I don't know what killed them. I don't know if something happened to the parents, and that meant the birds starved to death? Or if they something was wrong with them, structurally? Nothing can get in the box except very small birds, so nothing got in there and hurt them. Were there more chicks, and they flew away, and these two didn't make it? I'll never know.

It makes my heart hurt.

I've posted the pictures below - I don't find them macabre, but you might. The nest itself is very interesting in its layers, with dryer lint on the top (I regularly put dryer lint out in the garden for this exact purpose - another reason to stop using chemical detergents in our wash).

I decided to put the nest back out in the garden, on the ground - perhaps the tiny bodies can be used as nutrition by some other creature, perhaps the nest can be re-used by another bird.

Nature can be very joyful, but also quite sad.

Pictures below:

top view

the two babies

layers in the nest