Saturday, August 20, 2011

Nest Building

All during the nest-building process, she [the hummingbird] periodically sits in the nest and squirms about, fitting the interior to just the right size for her body. Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Robert Sargent, p. 40

We are moved to our home—okay mostly moved. We won’t be completely out of Shire until next week because I am collecting things for a garage sale in the garage of our old house.

I love our new home. I don’t want to go back to our old house but I do still miss some things.

I am still rooting around, figuring out where to put things, rearranging, deciding. It is a process.

Our first few days in our new home, I missed the birds. We had cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, grosbeak, downy and hairy woodpeckers on Shire. They are our version of pets, requiring no care except to keep the feeders full.

So I talked my hubby into putting up a food court of sorts. (Believe it or not, this is the short story. There were numerous other singular shorter poles and posts and hooks—much more discreet—before we discovered this all-in-one very tall, very white, very conspicuous solution.) I chuckled when my DIL suggested that it would be quite easy to paint it green. Perhaps that would make it more tree-like.

I just wanted to woo some birds to our new treeless yard.

But when putting up our avian feeding station, we needed to put it farther from house than at our old house because we are on a hill—kind of. So it is pretty much right in the middle of our backyard—standing all by itself.

Even so, far as the feeders are from the window, we have birds. If you feed them, they will come.

In just a few days, we had flocks of goldfinch. Sometimes as many as fourteen at our feeders all at one time. Goldfinches know how to flock together. How we enjoy watching them!

At first we thought we would just fill three hooks with feeders. Then I remembered that birding can be highly addictive. I filled the rest of the hooks with sunflower seeds and suet one at a time. Each time hubby came home from a trip, he noticed a new feeder. However, because of my diligence, we started seeing a few cardinals, lots of chickadees and an occasional woodpecker. (It is hard to get a photo of the woodpecker but he is on the suet.)

About this time, I was particularly excited because hummingbirds started paying regular visits. I had tried in vain to attract them to our old home and was never successful but now we have hummingbirds dive bombing their own kind and other birds, too, with regularity and we are so tickled at their presence. We seem to have only female hummers but they sure are fun!

Wanting a much closer look at these tiny girls, I persuaded my hubby to put up an extension for a hummingbird feeder right on our new house. I remember some family members fretting about my Dad climbing ladders when he got older. Now perhaps some think Bob (and I?) should not climb ladders. I understand my Dad better now. Together Bob and I got the job done.

And sure enough, hummingbirds come right up to the house! I faithfully change the sugar water every two to three days.

We are so happy with our new little bird friends.

Except one night we looked out and saw a striped polecat and that did not make us happy.

And the next night, we saw four!

We soon ascertained that skunks like sunflower seeds.

So we decided to remove that venue from our food court.

Unfortunately, those black and white stripes were around again the following night.

As the result of many Google searches, I raided my pantry and refrigerator for home remedies. I happened to have a whole jar of 2003 red pepper flakes in the pantry—yes, I don’t know why I moved them to the new house but when cleaning the pantry, they made the cut. Scary, huh?

Except that was good, because I did not feel at all bad scattering the whole expired jar under our feeders.

I also found a whole bottle of lime juice—not expired—and spread that in figure eights on top of the pepper flakes.

Since I did not want to kill the grass, those were the only two home remedies that I could use on the first evening of skunk assault. And actually, I think they worked.

The skunks have stopped coming under the feeders. It is probably more because we removed their food source.

On that first night of four skunks in the backyard, in my panic, I ordered some Shake Away Fox Urine Granules. Yes, I really did. It came in the mail—Yay Amazon Prime—in two more days.

And so, since I had paid for the stuff, I sprinkled granules under the feeder. Just to let you know, they smell worse than any rotten anything you have smelled in your whole entire life! Actually, just writing the words nearly brings on a gag reflex.

I was concerned that the birds would leave but the SAFU did not seem to have any effect on them. Except, unfortunately the cardinals are not coming to the feeders as there is nothing available to eat that they fancy.

The hummingbirds keep us entertained. I think I will need therapy when they fly back to Central America in another month.

Maybe by then we will be brave enough to woo the cardinals back with sunflower seeds.

I think this is all part of my squirming about.


Rebecca said...

I really am intrigued and entertained by birds - just not enough to embark on the rituals and expense I assume to be involved. (Shame on me. I always seem to have enough $$ to thrift-store-shop when I need it!)

Every year I think maybe I should try it. Then I fear I will be less than consistent in keeping the feeders full and have heard that is cruel and unusual punishment for the "pets".

Your skunk story makes our mole situation seem less formidable. Oh my! Don't you wonder where they relocated to?

Wanda..... said...

Wishing you continued joy with nesting and squirming, Brenda!

Every now and then skunks visit our feeders too, Brenda. Baffles had to be bought to keep the climbing raccoons from devouring the sunflower seeds which now cost over twice as much as a few years ago. I think of the birds that visit here as 'Mine' also :) which reminds me...their feeders are near empty!