Earthworms are being pecked out of the ground at an astonishing rate, judging from the robin beaks I have seen today. Hungry mouths are waiting.
Observing feathered behavior is a favorite pasttime, particularly when one individual becomes part of my landscape, part of my family.
My girl’s nest building was furtive, unnoticed. But her alarm routine while I gardened prompted a determined hunt ending at a low growing pine, her nest just above eye level. Gleefully I imagined the clutch she was protecting, and anticipated the addition of nestling peeps to our spring bird symphony.
I sat at my desk Friday, the clatter of the keyboard drowned out by alarm cries. I was driven to such distraction that I left my desk and walked out on the front porch. At least a dozen robins were participating in a flock alarm pattern, alternately swooping through the air, diving toward the ground or calling from a nearby maple. Perched at the top of the six foot pine was a Red-tailed Hawk, leering into the shrub’s branches. At my nest.
AT MY NEST!!!
I joined the flock alarm, clapping my hands and shouting “HEY!!!” My herding dog turned his eye on the raptor and added his command. With great deliberation the hawk looked down, then around, then slowly spread her wings to a lazy lift off. Atop my neighbors hemlock, twenty-four inches of taloned feathers observed our interspecies team for another minute before abandoning the project all together.
A short while later I held a compact mirror above the nest to glimpse the raptor’s intended prize–four blind, down-covered nestlings. Several hours passed before I checked one more time on my nest, only to be met by a mother’s stern gaze. We both have our eye on the future.
I swear I left the door open for just a couple of hours, as I tended the garden and the dogs. Swoosh! at my head came a LBB, the bane of a birder’s existence while in the field. Little Brown Bird is the go-to scientific identification for all sorts of sparrows and wrens that so closely resemble each other that only intense field scrutiny can resolve the question – what did I just see. So on that afternoon, the swiftness of flight and my startled response to a bird flying back to front out of my garage left me with but one conclusion: I had an LBB trying to nest in my garage. IN my garage.
I do not want the interior of my house or even my garage becoming a site of passerine development and I immediately searched the space in front of my headlights. Yep. There it was. Tucked high above my reach on a decrepit sheet of burlap, woven bits of leaf litter, moss, twigs created a shallow cup in the shelf corner. Clue number one that Little Brown Bird was a wren.
Clue number two was heard as I tended flower beds and dogs, garage door CLOSED, the next day: teakettle-teakettle-teakettle. The chunky little brown bird darted into a nearby pine shrub, and perched with its tail held high. Clue number three.
Now I was certain that a Carolina Wren sought my garage shelf for development. I kept the garage door closed, for the next day or two,surely long enough, I thought, to encourage this picky wren to seek other marvelous real estate in my wooded property.
Yesterday, I once again kept the garage open, as I tended the garden and the dogs. Life was easy. For everyone. Including my Little Brown Bird.
Suffice it to say, I removed the nest before this development had gotten too far.
May I suggest, LBB, my hanging fern?