• 12Jun

    A few weeks ago, I noticed a very messy nest made in the curve of the downspout on the side of the shed. My neighbor said it was a mourning dove nest. Mourning doves are one of my favorite birds. So I made a special point of telling any workmen around to be careful of the nest.

    I googled it, and apparently the birds are known for their very untidy nests.

    But I never saw any birds in it and forgot about it. One day, a robin flew over my head and landed…in the nest. I hadn’t noticed, but she’d built a very tidy nest on top of it. It was like this: mourning dove nest: built by Juli; nest on top: built by very organized hubby. Such a difference, and I need to try and take a picture.

    Normally, I’m not fond of the robins. In the past, they have mowed down my entire vegetable garden of seedlings. Nobody would believe me, and said it had to be cutworms, but I put foil collars on my seedlings to prevent cutworms, plus I’d seen a robin do the deed. She just chopped it off with her beak, let the plant parts fall over and then flew away. Destruction for no purpose at all, and I was MAD. Plus I had to replant the entire garden.

    After that, I used vinyl bird netting and a system of foil pieces on string, that I would weave throughout the garden. Oh, I tried making mean faces on old CDs and hanging them on stakes, but that did not work. I thought about getting a fake owl or snake, but was chatting with an old timer at a nursery. He said robins did that to get stuff for their nest, and you only had to survive a week or so, and then they were done.

    Once I learned that, I did the netting for about two weeks, then removed it, and haven’t had a problem with birds since.

    So this robin had built a new nest, and it was obvious she was sitting on her eggs. It’s too high up to look into the nest, without a ladder. But I’ve enjoyed her intense concentration and the glaring looks she gives me when I looked at her and her nest.

    I kept watching, but for the last couple of days, forgot about the nest. It just hit me, and I ran outside. The nest was empty…..but within seconds, there she flew, into the nest, a worm in her mouth. And I saw teeny tiny heads and beaks sticking up!!! She’s birthed her babies!

    I’m so excited. It’s the first time I’ve actually seen a bird’s nest in real life with baby birdies! My whole life I’ve lived in the country, and we allowed cats and dogs outside. So bird watching (or feeding) has never been an option until my move to the burbs. I really detest the burbs, although I confess liking some of the perks (like not having to drive fifteen minutes to run out for a loaf of bread, plus cable TV and DSL, and not being last on the list when power lines go down).

    But being in the burbs means it’s not safe to let the cats outside anymore. On the flip side, for the first time, I can feed the birds. And now I’ve seen my first nest of baby robins. Imagine growing up in the country, a farm girl on a horse, and she’s never seen a nest of baby birds. Baby chickens, yes. Baby cows, piglets, rabbits, and other mammals, check. But wildlife? Nope, other than some possums I rescued, Mike and Possie. I was a kid then, hence the clever names.

    I did see a fledgling last year, which was very exciting. He wasn’t excited, though, because I was oohing and ahing, and it invaded his bird space.

    Baby birdies!!! I get excited at the silliest things.

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  • 10Aug

    I had seen a few hummingbirds, but nothing like we had last year. In the last week, they finally started visiting regularly.

    When I moved to the burbs (from the boonies) several years ago, my cat had to go from one allowed in the yard (I literally lived in a national forest) to an indoor cat. The only benefit to moving to town was that I could actually put out a bird feeder. Okay, the other benefit was that I could get pizza delivery and could hop in the car and go to the 711 for a midnight twinkie. Woopie.

    Yes, I miss the country.

    Anyway, the hummingbirds seemed to like my hanging baskets of flowers, so last year I bought a hummingbird feeder. At the wild bird store, they showed me this hanger with suction cups so you could stick it to the outside of a window. I bought that too and hung the feeder on the outside of a living room window.

    The bonus of that is the cats can sit on a furniture arm and watch too. I keep safflower seeds in another bird feeder (that I’ve now moved to that same window, probably not so attractive from the outside, but the cats are entertained on a daily basis). The safflower seeds draw in cardinals and finches, but blackbirds stay away. The blackbirds get a yearly buffet from a neighbor’s berry tree and make a purple mess for two weeks.

    Once I put up that feeder and began adding sugar water, they began to come on a regular basis. Within weeks, they were coming one after another, a parade of little hummers. Fabulous!

    Both cats were enchanted, but especially little Jasmine, our deaf kitty. Her deafness is rarely an issue, she has no idea she’s deaf (and even Jack doesn’t seem to realize it, often vocally calling her with a toy in his mouth, ready to play). The down side of being deaf is that she also has no idea that letting out a loud scream of joy when she sees a bird tends to scare them off.

    Deaf cats are typically one of two things: either they’re mostly silent, or they’re vocal, but their communications are inappropriate. They have no control over the volume, and her tendency is to let out these horrid screams. If you didn’t know her and you heard it, you’d swear someone just stepped on her tail. But they are screams of delight, of big joy.

    Last year’s hummingbirds seemed to get used to her, and eventually realized the window was a barrier. She was no threat, just an oddity. Unfortunately, I was never able to get it captured on camera. Maybe this year.

    They danced. There was one hummingbird in particular that was a peeping tom. S/he liked to hover at the window, look in to see what we were doing, and when Jasmine showed up, the bird danced with her. Jasmine was so enchanted by that bird that she stopped her screams, stopped trying to grab the bird through the window, and just placed her nose against the glass, watching, mesmerized.

    The hummingbird would dance up and down, put its beak at the same height as Jasmine’s nose and the two would just look at one another. Then the bird would begin bobbing up and down, left and right, only moving a fraction of an inch at a time.

    It was just too spectacular for words to watch a beautiful little hummingbird interacting with this tiny cat. It always reaffirmed my decision to go organic.

    This year, the hummingbirds seem late, but they’ve finally arrived. I’ve noticed they are most active near sunset, and that’s the best time to sit down and just watch. One after the next, they come and drink. Sometimes one will drink at the feeder while two or three more feed nearby on a hanging flowers.

    I read yesterday that they feed most heavily just before sunset, to fill up for the night, and then start feeding again at sunrise, having grown hungry through the night. Apparently they nest during the night.

    The next time I have a bout of insomnia (an ongoing difficulty), I’m going to go out just before sunrise with my camera and set up a chair nearby. I’ve tried taking pictures through the window, but the lighting is never right and there’s always a glare. Plus it always shows a spot I missed when cleaning the windows. Blah.

    Interesting that it took moving into the burbs to be able to appreciate the beauty of birds.

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