Sunday, July 1, 2012

No Empty Nests Here

Well I can't grow a garden and can barely keep a geranium alive for lack of a multicolored thumb. But I've found what I can cultivate is a bumper crop of wrens and chickadees.

Starting with one birdhouse, a gift from my brother in Massachusetts, I was hooked. As soon as I had hung the box in the black cherry tree, a pert little chickadee claimed it, uttering that wonderful electric sound they make. I spent way too many hours watching the pair of chickadees cram nesting material into the house. Soon cheeping permeated the air, growing stronger each day. One morning, all was silent. The babies had flown the nest without even a thank you for all the high priced sunflower seeds I had put out.

I took the house down to clean it, easing the softness out of the overstuffed box, placing the nest in a clear, glass vase and adding it to the rest of my collection that lives on my mantle. (I like to put them into glass containers so they can be picked up and looked at, revealing the intricacies of the nest and the materials that were incorporated.) I discovered that chickadees are quite fond of  Buddha's hair which I add to a wire basket after brushing him, along with bits and pieces of strings, ribbons, etc. for nest building. No sooner had I returned the house to its former location, than a pair of wrens claimed it for themselves. I made an emergency call to my brother - send more bird houses, fast!

Now my house and trees sport birdhouse ornaments year round, housing families of chickadees and wrens in the spring and summer since they can produce 2 or 3 broods a season, and in the winter, the houses provide shelter from the "fowl" weather. (I know, I know, but I had to.)

My nest collection is growing. And no, I don't rob birds of their nests. They are found on the ground after being dislodged during a storm, or they come out of my bird houses since the birds like to build new ones instead of using the old ones. Some of my nests are unrecognizable to me. I have a field guide to nests but sometimes they all look alike.

I love the impermanence of a bird nest and the fragility. It's a good reminder of life.
"All God's critters got a place in the choir. Some sing low, some sing higher, some sing out loud on the telephone wire."
                                            -  Bill Staines

And each night I am lulled to sleep by a lone, male mockingbird in the mimosa tree. I hope when he finds his love, they will nest in my yard.

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