We watched her build the nest for weeks.
It grew much larger than we expected.
We were thrilled to see three chicks. (The beak of the third chick is barely visible behind the second chick)
On Thursday, my wife reported that a snake got into the nest, although how was unclear. Two chicks survived and I got this shot on Saturday morning. We weren’t sure how the snake had gotten up under the eaves, but assumed it would not need to eat again for a week or so.
I looked forward to photographing the mother feeding the chicks, and was most concerned about finding a better angle for photographs.
But Saturday afternoon, I came home to this horrific tableau.
The adult oriole tried frantically to disrupt the snake.
The snake had already dropped a dead chick to the ground. He wasn’t letting go of this one.
Eventually, the snake dropped about twenty feet to the ground with his prey.
I felt awful, but I couldn’t look away. I’m a photographer.
The bereaved. I cannot begrudge the snake his nature. I photographed him as I stood beside my BBQ grill, where a slab of cow was sizzling. Still, we had come to view the oriole family as neighbors, and I feel sad for the mother’s loss.