Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bird Nest Season

This is bird nest season around our house. We move carefully as we do our daily outdoor chores in case we accidentally disturb a nest. So far, we have found one beneath the umbrella on the patio table and in my husband's toolbox in the garage. I am certain there is at least one other nest in the garage judging from the amount of birds coming and going and there may be one in the hanging planter by my bedroom window. I also suspect there is one in the shrubbery outside my bedroom patio door. I do not actively seek them out to avoid disturbing the mothers and babies.

Last year, a bird built a nest in a box of tile that a worker left on the back picnic table during a remodel. We did not move the box because the nest was there. I was concerned that it was low enough for a predator, but I didn't know if moving the nest would frighten the mother away from the nest. I also couldn't figure out how to move it without having the nest fall apart. One morning, when I stepped outside my back door, I knew something awful had happened because there were tiny feathers on the table. I glanced in the box and the nest was empty. However, the nest was tucked back beneath other items that were not disturbed. This bothered me for a long time. I couldn't figure out how a predator got into the box and ate the birds without disturbing any of the other items.

Today, as I was reading about squirrels, I learned that squirrels are notorious nest robbers and will eat small birds. This broke my heart, of course. We have many, many squirrels on the property and I encourage them with corn and sunflower seeds. I love watching them, particularly the young brother and sister who chase each other around the trees. One would think that with the amount of snackies I provide they would be too full to rob nests, but that's not the way nature operates. No matter how many times I declare my property a "no kill" zone, nature still has its way. The dogs still chase the squirrels as soon as I open the back door, the cat sits at the glass door, drooling over the birds, the large garter snake on the property continues to prowl for frogs and the road runner family--they have a new baby this year--continue to hunt for lizards.

I read an article last week about road runners and how they are so fast they can leap into the air and grab a hummingbird mid-flight. The hummingbirds are starting to hover around my back door, buzzing me as I perform my daily chores. I noticed the road runners strolling through the property yesterday, their heads jerking from side to side as they scanned the rock walls of my home, searching for anoles. They really are fascinating creatures, but I sometimes wish they would find another place to hunt. If they did, though, I would never see them.

The baby lizards are emerging, as well, which explains why my cat continues to try to sneak outside as soon as anyone moves toward the door. I found a baby lizard in the pond yesterday. It broke my heart. I tried to revive it, but it was obviously under water too long. I have numerous logs draped across the middle so the creatures can grab onto something if they fall in, but I still end up with casualties. They always drink from the smaller pond, most likely because the birds use the larger one for bathing. The snake, however, prefers the smaller pond, as well, because there is an overhang of branches with rocks tucked underneath. Apparently, garter snakes like to bathe, too, particularly when it's hot outside!

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