Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Life gets in the way of life.

This spring has been an interesting one for us. For many years and many houses Amy and I have had backyards. In the spring that leads to all sorts of birds moving in and making nests around the yard. I’ve always enjoyed it because (despite the bird poop) it is nice to hear the chirps and see the new life. But this year lines have been crossed.

For the most part the birds have always made their nests in the trees. We have AMPLE trees in our yard. Occasionally they would find some little sneaky spot on the house – and that was fine, too. Birds, for the most part, seem to be smart enough to steer clear of the areas that are high in human traffic. For the most part.

It started a few weeks ago when Amy was cleaning leaves out of the bushes in the front yard. She disturbed a duck that had made a nest under one of the bushes. I was working on something else when I heard the scream. I looked up to see a pale Amy running to me with a large duck flying behind her. You never really think about how big a duck is until it’s flying out you. Sure, it’s no goose – but it’s also not a robin. Anyway – we quickly got as far away as we could in hopes that mother duck would go back to the nest.

Eventually she did go back to her nest and her eight eggs. I formed a pretty good relationship with mother duck. I gave her plenty of space, and I tried to give her warning if I was going to have to get near. I did my best to let her know that I was no a threat. Eventually – about three weeks after discovery – mother duck was attacked in the night. I’m not sure what attacked, but there were a lot of feathers and eight broken eggs. Maybe it was a cat, or a raccoon – or the neighbor’s dog? I’ll never know. I just wish I could have done something to help.

For a while we were not using the garage – I mean we were using it, but not to park in. So we were not in a routine of opening and closing it daily. Well – that apparently encouraged a robin to make a nest on the light that hangs right next to the garage door. Normally, if I had caught it earlier, I might have “encouraged” that she build someplace else. But, alas, the nest is there. Every morning mother robin and I have our littler interchange – she flies to the yard, I get my bike out, reverse and repeat. I’m OK with it.

Well – now that we have increased the usage of our garage – the light above the front door has become home for a little sparrow (which does not make as tidy a nest as a robin). Again, it was not caught in time that I felt I could encourage a “move.” So, the sparrow and the robin have conquered the front of our house. If you come to visit you will most likely be greeted with a chirp and a flyby.

It’s the backyard where things have gone awry. Last summer a robin made a nest in the downspout of our gutter when we did not get rain for a period of time. I thwarted all those efforts this year with some screen and gutter covers. A family of starlings attempted (every year) a nest in our soffit – but I finally got something that they couldn’t get through this year. Go me! The starlings have since relegated themselves to a knot in one of our trees.

The problem is/was with a sparrow couple. One night while sitting on the patio I noticed – or thought I noticed a sparrow fly into my dryer vent. I decided the next day to inspect and it appeared that it would be virtually impossible for this to have happened. See – under the hood there’s a metal flap that seals the vent from the outside world. How could a bird possibly open that? How could it open with nest making materials? There’s no way there were any birds in there.

Well – guess what? When I did laundry on Sunday I learned that there were birds in there. The kindling – or “nest” as the sparrows call it – did not catch on fire, fortunately. A lot of it blew out the vent – and the rest I pulled out. And I felt AWFUL while doing it. We needed to do laundry – but I certainly did want to be a home wrecker. Since Sunday the sparrows have been hanging around a lot. I cannot decide if they are just pissed at me – or if they are scheming about getting back in. Either way it pains me to think about it.

Well – if only that were the only bad bird decision. There is a robin that is trying to build a nest on my outdoor speaker control. Sure I don’t use the speakers EVERYDAY, but frequently enough that a nest would be burdensome. Not that I am blaming the robin – she’s picked a spot that is well protected. So, each morning and afternoon I have been trying to take down the random twigs and strings that have been brought over…and as soon as I do it they are back.


It wouldn’t be so annoying if there weren’t a plethora of trees in our backyard – but there is a plethora of trees. Actually – I’m not sure what a “plethora” is – but we have like six large trees in our yard. Of those I can confirm one bird family living in one tree. So – I’m no ornithologist, but it would seem that there is plenty of room. I understand that we (people) have completely destroyed nature and we need find ways to coexist – but this house has been here for over 40 years without these issues.

Any thoughts?


Magen said...

You should charge rent.

Rishy said...

there is a family of blue jays who have taken up residence in the wall of evergreen bushes on the back of our lawn. I like them; they are nice. Except for the fact that they are a bit more zealous than the robins and swifts that take up in the trees, garage, porch, and under the grill (GAAAAAH!!! BAD idea. Really. Bad freakin' idea). Whenever we let the dog out in the back yard Mrs. Bluejay launches quite a serious attack. Anywhere in the back yard. 20 feet away in the back yard. Truman is developing poop anxiety.