House guests

Last spring for our cub scout den we made bird houses to fulfill one of the requirements. The design we used was one of my own, using rough-cut cedar fence boards. Since I needed to be able to teach the boys how to make them I built one as a prototype. At the time one of my boys was in our den, so he made one, too. He and my wife soon wanted to hang them up for the birds. I’ll admit I didn’t have much faith in their ability to attract birds, though. Yellowjackets, perhaps, but birds? Probably not.

Throughout the spring and summer we saw signs that birds had at least visited one of the houses, but the other looked abandoned. The perch fell off of one, and this winter one of the nails holding the other to the tree worked loose from the other to where it was leaning sharply to one side.

Spring is coming now, and we decided I should probably fix the sagging one. Over the weekend I got out my ladder and went up to fix it. I’d heard somewhere that it’s a good idea to clean them out once a year, too, so that they’ll be fresh for new birds. But like I said, I didn’t have much faith there would even be anything in them to clean out. However, I had built them to detach easily from the mounting board for just that purpose, so I gave it a try.

The first bird house contained an abandoned nest. The bottom third of the house was crammed full of nesting material, including lots of bird feathers. They’d built a rather cozy little nest in there. But surely the other one would be empty. We’d never seen any birds coming or going. But I guess they’re sneaky. It was just as crammed full as the other. I cleaned them out, put a new perch on the one, and replaced them on the trees. We’re all set for new tenants.

There’s something a little profound, a little humbling about successfully, positively interacting with nature. It gives me a little thrill to know that something I built gave shelter and comfort to some of the fragile little creatures that give us so much pleasure when we watch them at our bird feeders. My son and I built something, and two families of birds found them useful. That’s….pretty cool!

I’ll be keeping a sharper eye out this year. I’m curious to know how they managed to sneak so much stuff in there without us noticing. And I’d love to get a peek at just who our new tenants will be.

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3 Responses to House guests

  1. Maybe, some day, I will, too.

  2. Terhi says:

    Little birdies need all the help they can get in this urban environment. I’m glad they found the birdhouses last year and I hope we’ll get some house guests this year, too.

  3. I’ve been wanting to put up bird houses for a few years, but wasn’t sure they’d get used. Maybe I’ll give it a try. A couple of years ago some robins decided our porch light was the perfect place to build a nest, probably because it’s under the porch roof where it’s nice and dry. That was cool, but messy, and not the safest place for the babies to be once they started learning to fly.

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