Sunday, November 18, 2012

Shelter From the Storms

As I write this entry, the north wind is huffing at the back door and the birds are doing their best to hang onto the feeders on the west side of the house. This past week has been full of unexpected debris to be navigated and swollen creeks to be crossed. I so yearn for normalcy, a quietness to my days, and in another couple of weeks I will have it. This uncertainty has gotten me to thinking about the past hurricane and nor'easter and how those of us on a barrier island survive the storms, those born of nature and the ones that erupt from within.

I've been preparing the yard for the animals that will have to seek shelter from the storms that are already making their presence known. All the feeders have been set out, filled to the brim with sunflower seeds, suets, peanut butter, etc. Water containers are freshly filled and of course Mother Nature provides her own shelters with fallen trees, knotholes and dense shrubbery. But in overdeveloped areas where every wild foot of space now sprouts manicured lawns and palm trees that should not be growing here, the wildlife has more difficulty in finding a hideaway when needed.

At the Crooked Little House, I have left the back of the property in a semi-wild state where I have a large woodpile for shelter. I have also taken logs and made stacks, crisscrossing them so there is space for someone to crawl in between when the north winds howls and slashes rain across the land. I like to reserve some of the trimmed branches from the trees to form a teepee of sorts for the rodents and birds to take shelter.

Leaving the birdhouses out throughout the winter after giving them a thorough cleaning offers up additional shelter as does the chickadee roosting box I put up in the cherry tree. Roosting boxes look like giant birdhouses but provide numerous perches inside for a lot of birds to share. The opening is cut to a specific diameter for a certain bird, just like a birdhouse. Mine is for chickadees since I have so many of them nearby.

Another thing I do is cut openings in the ligustrum bushes, giving easy access to the birds caught in a bad patch of weather. I have seen as many as a dozen assorted birds tucked away inside the big ligustrum by my front door. And hopefully some of these shelters will keep birds safe when my red tailed hawk comes to visit each morning. I struggle with this issue because he too needs nourishment to survive the winter.

And when I've done all I can outside, I remind Buddha and Erb to be grateful they are warm and dry, safe and well fed.

"Inside my empty bottle I was constructing a lighthouse while all the others were making ships."
                                                                                                 - Charles Simic


  1. Thanks Patricia. For anyone interested, here's a couple of great books with details on wildlife friendly projects.
    "Projects for the Birder's Garden", Fern Marshall Bradley
    "The New Gardening for Wildlife", Bill Merilees

  2. Ah, you must be feeling're drawing again!

    Kerry Daniel

  3. Drawing helps! For anyone I owe a letter to, please give me a couple of weeks to get back to normal. Haven't forgotten you I promise.

  4. and the prayer,which my mouth is too full to express,
    swells my heart that thy shadow may never be lessen,
    that the days of thy lot be lengthened below,
    and the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin - vine grow......

    -john greenleaf whittier