There are a number of birds building nests around our house right now. Mockingbirds are building one right next to the one they built last year. And Heaven help the poor creature who passes too close to their territory after eggs are laid. They will dive bomb and attack anything they think poses a threat to their family. They have chased dogs, cats and humans in my yard.
Wrens are checking three locations on my patio, trying to decide which to proceed with. In years past, they have demolished a begonia in a hanging basket on the front porch, but did allow me to lower the basket to show grandchildren the baby birds within. Their nest looks like a small French bread and they tunnel way down inside. Right now it’s either one of two gourds or a very nice red barn birdhouse that has “See Rock City” across the roof.
They have also built a nest in the coin box of an old discarded pay phone I had on the patio. And in an old watering can in my potting shed. They even built one in my Dad’s welding hood that hung on a nail in his workshop. The little square peep hole in the helmet provided the perfect place to watch the eggs hatch inside. And a friend’s husband left a baseball cap on a shelf in his work shed, only to find a nest in the cap when he returned a week or so later for his cap and his lawnmower.
Allen found one making a nest in a wooden nail keg (full of big, sharp nails) on a construction job. They cordoned off the area to protect the nest, then sent for more nails.
I like to find discarded Red-Winged Blackbird nests on the side of country roads. They are usually made from long grasses or hay entwined in the fork of a bush or hedgerow. Their weaving skills are a wonder.
I have yet to come across a Hummingbird nest but they are so tiny that I could well have passed one up and not known it. We have kept our feeder up all winter, as a lone Hummer had stayed for whatever reason.
A not too pleasant encounter of the winged kind was when the Chimney Swifts decided the chimney on the north side of my house was a perfect place to set up housekeeping. Swifts build their nests with mud and saliva and, being situated down the throat of a chimney, bird droppings as well. Just don’t let a heavy rain in hot weather catch you not having cleaned out the chimney. We didn’t and had to seal the front of the fireplace to keep the very unpleasant smell out of the rest of the house.
Mama had problems with Swifts coming down her chimney as well. Those that didn’t get trapped in her lace curtains had to deal with me and my dip net. That went on season after season until we put a cap on the chimney, which stopped them from migrating down the throat and in to the living room.
It is of the utmost importance that we teach little ones that birds are a thing of beauty and not something you target practice on. A majority of all the birds that we see are classified as songbirds and it is against the law to shoot them.
And by law of nature, we shouldn’t disturb them either.
We are fortunate to live within driving distance of quite a few great nature trails and bird walks. The Arboretum at Chicot State Park near Ville Platte is the closest. And Lake Martin near Lafayette is another. Sherbourne Wildlife area near Krotz Springs is also a birding hotspot.
We have driven down to the Cal-Cam area and been to trails near Laccassine and another below Sulphur. And the new Palmetto State Park below Abbeville. Leave small pets at home as these three areas are also home to some very large alligators.
I read where a new area has opened a few miles below Gueydan. Since all of these trails are in a different area, the birds you’ll see will most likely be different as well.
And for a change, drive down to the gulf and see how many different shore birds you can identify. It’s all free. Pack a picnic lunch and hit the road.
Don’t forget your bird book, binoculars and camera. Rule of thumb: take only pictures, leave only footprints.