Monday, May 22, 2006

Bird Brain

This weekend J’s parents & brother helped us tear down the unsightly lean-to shed someone thoughtfully attached to our 100 year-old house in the last century. (Thanks Mom, Dad, and Safety Joe!) Roughly 20 hours of manual labor later, we’re ready for phase 2: excavating, pouring a concrete driveway, building a garage, and siding the house. Sadly, I did little more than make several batches of iced tea and toss a few handfuls of rotten lumber into the dumpster. I felt a bit fraudulent in my safety glasses and hardhat, and I wanted to do more to help. So when I saw some black-capped chickadees building a nest in a tiny hole in the front of our house, I thought I’d expedite the upcoming siding process by plugging the hole with steel wool.

After I did so, I realized how deeply I’d upset the cute little chickadees intent on raising their young in the wall of our house. They kept flying up to the plugged hole with beakfuls of nesting material; then, confused at seeing it blocked, they’d fly into a nearby tree and squawk at me. This went on for about two hours, and of course it broke my heart. I had no idea how determined they would be.

So I did what any rational grown woman would do. I started crying, propped the ladder back up against the house, and pulled the steel wool out of their nesting hole. But first I raced to Petco, bought a birdhouse, hung it on the front of the house, realized it wasn’t acceptable to the chickadees, and hung it in the back yard. J was exasperated, and who can blame him. We’ll have to wait until July to side the house now, after the babies have fledged and left the nest.

But I must confess that I LIKE having those chickadees around. They nested in that same spot last summer, and I could hear the babies cheeping through my bedroom wall after they’d hatched. They eat insects and sing the Ha-Ha! song, for crying out loud. Simply put, they make me happy.

Anyway, I didn’t feel at peace until I saw them flying in and out of the hole again, rebuilding their nest for the last time. I further justify my actions by the fact that we also have purple finches building a nest in a hanging flower basket on our front porch. So, there are two good reasons to wait until July to finish the remodeling. (Well, they’re good reasons to me.)

Ultimately, the whole experience has not only mildly embarrassed me at my hopelessness in the face of wildlife dramas; it has also made me realize that I probably can’t give my mom any more crap for having trouble letting my younger brother and sister leave the nest.


Edit: put your pop music know-how to the test over at Manic Mom's place. She's even got a prize for the winner! I think the contest is still on. Steph, as Jem and her Holograms would say, you are truly, truly, truly outrageous.

31 comments:

  1. Can we get a picture of you in that hard hat and them there safety goggles?

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  2. I would have done the same thing. We had to take down all of our bird feeders when we realized we were luring them to their ultimate demise at the claws of our cats.

    I hope they make it. Chikadees are so cute, much more so than bluejays and grackles which are just mean.

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  3. Aw!!! Sweet little chikadees. :)

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  4. I love this post. I love the idea of you up a ladder with a hardhat on taking the steel wool out of a tiny chickadee hole. Good thing you had those safety glasses - steel wool can sometimes spontaneously fragment into your eyeball.

    (I did the same thing this weekend with a wasps' nest in a bush next to our front door. The wasps were buzzing around the former site of their ugly grey nest and Madeleine I were mocking them in their confusion. I let her say 'stupid' even. Oh my god, she savored that word like it was the last popsicle on earth.)

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  5. I would have done the same thing. :) You have a kind heart, obviously.

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  6. Miss Doxie is less than enamored with your buds, the chickadees (at least I think these are chickadees in her post)

    I call this "When chickadees attack"

    http://www.missdoxie.com/2006/05/post_5.html

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  7. I am totally a week behind on my blog comments, so I apologize in advance for the blog comment drive-through I'm about to do. ;-)

    That post from Miss Doxie is hilarious, you should definitely check it out.

    And I would have completely done the same thing with the chickadees. You are not alone in your tenderheartedness. And besides, that was just as important a task as tearing down the shed!

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  8. awwww, I can see myself doing the same thing....i love the little birds! this morning my cats were going crazy - they had their tails all puffed up and everything. Ends up little yellow birds were clinging to the screens on our windows! the cats were practically orgasmic!

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  9. I'm not a bird person, but that pic looks kinda cute. Still, you're very sweet to be concerned about the chickadees, chickadee.

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  10. i would have felt similarly. although, I'm not so sure my enivronmental compassion would have won that argument.

    those birds are beautiful!

    Hale to the birdlady!

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  11. Birds are disease laden but I love em anyway.

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  12. Awwww you are wonderful!!!! The birds did not know they would inconvenience you! You are so wonderfully thoughtful to leave them be a little while longer!! I would have done the same, much to my J's anguish!

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  13. Aww. I would have started crying and climbed the ladder too.

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  14. First, jealous of your wonderful old home. I grew up in a turn of the century craftsman home, (in Appleton) which I still love. But I now live in a prefab ca. 1983 cracker box. Boring.

    Also, I would have done exactly the same thing with the baby birds. How sweet is that mama chickadee??

    When we moved into this house, we had a terrible mole infestation. The yard was riddled with tunnels, and you could break and ankle just walking to the mailbox. Our cat promptly took care of the problem, but it made me sad. Baby moles are kinda cute.

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  15. I think you are a kind hearted soul. I would have done the same thing. Chickadees are so cute.

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  16. I love the chickadees. They remind me of sitting in my grandmother's kitchen and looking through the window at the bird feeder outside where they were chomping away (do bird chomp?) on the seeds. For years I saved the nests that they discarded. I guess that means I'm a sap too.

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  17. Good for you.Chickadees are cute. I love their little song too.

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  18. Okay, yes, I would have done the same thing. :)

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  19. Oh Snow White, do you lean out your window and out your finger out for the fledglings to land on? Do it - you'll like it. :p

    I probably would've done the same thing. Or my cats would have... They're very thoughtful.

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  20. Oh, now you've done it. All the Chickadees in North America are going to be stopping by now. :)

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  21. I have a sad story about purple finches. ..

    We too had a nest in the flower basket on our front porch a few weeks ago. Then eggs, and then little fuzzy babies! Then (very sadly) no little fuzzy babies.

    We suspect either blue jays, crows or the stray cat that's been lurking around our yard.

    Anyway - just beware of predators :-(

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  22. Jess, I probably would have done exactly the same thing. How could you not capitulate in the faces of those sweet, confused chickadees? All they ever wanted, after all, was a temporary home.

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  23. I have some mourning doves that have continued to nest in a hanging flower basket on my balcony, season after season. The first two times they set up shop, they killed the plant they sat on. After that, I just let them have free run of the empty basket. I thought their babies would hatch and then they'd leave but it seems like they've decided that it's a nice place to live PERMANENTLY and have been hanging out there for months now. Every time I want to take a peek at them, the mom (or dad) bird flies at me, so I've given up.

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  24. You are a really nice lady, Jess. I hope the birds appreciate your efforts!

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  25. You CAN lead a horticulture! Nice blog. Yay for the bird's efforts, too. There are women all over America involved in your birds now. Everyday the world gets stranger!

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  26. I'm pretty sure Mr. Half (my husband) would have felt similarly about the value of preserving a chickadee nest.

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  27. I can see you standing there bawling your eyes out in a hard hat and safety goggles.... admirable! :)

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  28. screw the siding! You have wildlife choosing you to be their friend!!

    We got to watch cardinals build a nest and have their babies last year and loved it. We had to keep the dogs out of the backyard more often since once they noticed the parents flying in and out of this bush they would start getting too curious.

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  29. I am irrationally attached to the Robin who has built a nest RIGHT next to my bedroom window for two years in a row and scares the shit out of me when she swoops in next to my head - so Yeah. I feel you on the "SAVE THE NEST" campaign.

    I like Chicadees too. They stay around in the winter, braving it out like teh rest of us.

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  30. Preeeeety birdies!! I'm with ya on this, too! I gots a bird story too: we had a hummingbird nest outside our bedroom window once. I was gonna keep the nest after they abandoned it (and we were having the tree trimmed), but, dayum, it was covered with bird crap. It was still cool to have a hummingbird for a little while, though.

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  31. Hey... when I am doing manual labor, the ICED TEA MAKER is VERY special to me! ~ jb///

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