No offense to Mama Bird, but newly hatched birds aren't much to look at, imho...
In fact, I think they resemble something from a horror movie.
The first couple of photos were snapped the day they hatched. The ones below are from a couple of days later. Maybe ever-so-slightly fluffier? They're getting incrementally less creepy to look at... ;o) (Sorry, I'm just not a hatchling person!)
Here, you can see a beak and (closed) eyes:
It's still hard to believe this will be a handsome cardinal in such a short space of time.
I haven't gotten a good photo of it (because I feel guilty hanging over the nest too long, since I figure it might stress the parents to see a giant monster paying too much attention), but the beginnings of real feathers are taking shape on their wings.
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This afternoon, coming in from playing fetch with the dogs, I was surprised to see our resident "black snake" (who has made repeated appearances this spring) draped over some old stems of the Mexican petunia. (I really ought to have already trimmed those back, but I just haven't gotten around to it, yet.)
It was easily a couple of feet in the air, just hanging out, enjoying the breeze.
Fortunately, the dogs didn't see it, so I got them inside, then took a few quick photos.
You can tell by its round pupils (among other clues) that it's non-venomous. Around here, almost all venomous native snakes are pit vipers, and they have elliptical (vertical) pupils. The only exception is the coral snake, which is pretty rare in this area. All the dangerous snakes we are more likely to see (water moccasins/cottonmouths, rattlesnakes, and copperheads) have vertical pupils. Of course, there are other ways to identify the venomous snakes, and they're probably preferable, since you don't want to get too close to a snake-- especially if you're not sure whether or not it's particularly dangerous. Still, it's always a reassurance and a comfort (to me, at least) to see those round pupils!
One benefit of having the snake up off the ground this time was that I was able to see and get a couple of photos of its belly, which can help in identification.
Based on the dark belly (and other things), it seems safe to say that this is a black racer.
I've noticed fewer green anoles this year than in the recent past. Maybe he's been snacking on some of them... As long as he stays away from the baby birds-- and us and the dogs, of course!-- I guess I'll try to coexist peacefully with him (or her).
It does make me a little nervous, though, to know that he could be hidden in some of the more overgrown parts of the flowerbeds and come jumping out at me unexpectedly. Now I really wish I'd already trimmed back those Mexican petunias!
(Maybe I'll take our long-handled hoe and poke around a few minutes, before I get started on it. I hope that will be enough to stir him out of hiding, if he's in there!)