I spend a lot of time in my kitchen. Sometimes, I just stand in there and hang out and look through the window, where my view is a little pocketed slice of blue sky. Yesterday afternoon, as I was finishing up some dishes, I hear a flutter of wings about 6″ away on the other side of the window . . . . I look, and sure enough! They’re back! It’s like greeting old friends, and I suppose in a sense they are. This will be the fourth season that a bird family has built a home literally right in front of me.
And what perfect timing! I’ve been spending much time around the bungalow, having the handyman fix endless little annoyances, and not two weeks ago did I have him remove the old abandoned nest, which had been sitting up there for three years. It had become tattered and ragged from three seasons of use. Besides, after what happened last summer I wasn’t sure if any birds would ever return.
It’s been an interesting three years for the bird families living on the other side of my window. Sadly, only one of three years has shown successful breeding. But they are fascinating to watch and to just be near. I go about my business as I normally would, which includes sometimes standing in front of the window. The birds don’t seem to mind and they, too, go about the business of singing, nesting and eating a mere six inches in front of me. Frank the cat sits on the kitchen floor all season long watching my bird friends too. Sometimes he will cry like he wants to get them and when he does it’s a clicking sort of meow, a completely different kind of sound than any other time.
The birds sing in the window occasionally, and the sound carries as though it’s in the house. It’s like having my own personal random cuckoo clock. The songbirds hop from the protection of the latticework covering my patio, down onto a lamp wire strung below it and directly into their nest. Because of their unique front door, I see a window into their life. And what drama!
The first year was the most successful, with a brood of constantly squawking hatchlings by midsummer. I came to enjoy the sound of the babies; they grew quickly and soon their cries were no longer constant. The second year, in the middle of night – BOOM! I hear the sudden pound of an animal on my roof and loud thumps of feet bounding across it. Two seconds later I hear one solitary sharp half-squawk from the nest. And then dead quiet. If my cat weren’t curled up at the bottom of my bed when this happened, I would have blamed him for sure. But no, he is just as curious as I about the noise and is crying to get outside.
I flick on the back porch light just in time to see a long, grey furry paw reach through the lattice, trying to get to the nest. Rushing out the back door, I shove a broomstick up through the lattice and yell to scare the animal. I shine my flashlight onto the roof. A curious raccoon face greets me with blue eyes and a serene look, which seems to say, “Hey, I was just tryin’ to get some lunch . . . ”
The next morning Frank the cat is hot to get outside. I let him out and he immediately comes back with a dead baby bird. The eyes aren’t open yet.
They look like cartoony bulges and I imagine them as black X’s. The scene in the garden is a sad one – the birds twittering all around, looking for any sign of their offspring. Soon they leave and do not return all summer.
And then there was last year – a bad year for Daddy birds. Frank, who also hangs out in the garden, showed up one day with this in his mouth . . .
While I don’t expect the birds in my window to sew or salivate in order to build their new nest, like the birds in this article, (make sure you scroll to the bottom of the page), it will be fascinating to watch them rebuild from scratch. My granny always taught me to put the hair from my hairbrush outdoors so the birds can line their nests with it. I’m going to try it and see if it really works.