Wednesday, May 28, 2008

For the birds

Every spring, I hang baskets of petunias on our front porch. Last year, some of the local wildlife took an interest, as I discovered when I took the baskets down for their watering one afternoon and found a bird's nest nestled among the petunias. The kiddo and I watched as eventually, three eggs were laid in the nest, then one was pushed out and broke on the porch floor, then another egg replaced it. There was a lot of commotion in and around the basket and porch roof, which we tried to spy upon from inside the house as much as we could. Eventually, the three eggs hatched and there were three baby birds, much to our delight. Unfortunately, when the babies were in their second year of life, we came home from a road trip to discover them all dead (and icky). We don't know what transpired, as we were away, but it was a sad ending. (I will confess that I did not use the babies' demise as a teaching moment in the "circle of life" theme with the kiddo, then aged just 4. I lied and told her the babies must've flown away. Bad mommy, I know.)

I tried very hard not to disturb the nest last year. I'd only take the basket down when necessary for watering, and I took great care to water around the nest and leave it undisturbed. The mama bird came and went throughout that period, so I don't think she abandoned the eggs/babies because of human interference, especially since the babies "flew away" while we were out of town.

Well, Mother's Day weekend I bought my petunia baskets and hung them up once again. This past Sunday, I took the baskets down to water them and found a nest in the same basket! There were no eggs in it at that point, but when I took the baskets down this afternoon for watering, look at what I found:

I also tried to snap a picture of the mama and daddy bird, who perched on the next-door neighbors' roof and were cheeping ferociously at me until I re-hung the basket and went back inside.

Does anyone out there know what the heck kind of birds these are? I tried to figure it out online last year, but didn't come up with anything definitive. They frequent our backyard bird feeders, and I'm almost 100% positive they're the same birds from last year. The eggs are also the same - two smaller, less speckly ones and one much larger, super-speckled egg. Last year, we were guessing that some type of usurper bird was trying to horn in on the nest with her egg (in a cuckoo bird sort of way) and that was the cause of all the ruckus we'd hear out on the porch, the birds fighting over the nest. But a second year in a row? Hmmm, now we're not so sure. Hubby suggested that perhaps the majority of mama bird's egg-creating energy went into the big egg, and the others were sort of "runts of the litter" - or would that be a clutch? Anyhow, we'll now be monitoring this year's nest situation, once again as unobtrusively as possible (I will not sacrifice my flowers for the nest, so I will continue to water around it) and hopefully this year's eggies turn into birdies that actually do fly away this summer!


Anonymous said...

I have no idea but it could be the same birds that tried to make a nest in our upstairs bathroom window last summer.
The upstairs screen has a hole in it. For a few days, we couldn't figure out why the cats were so interested in the bathroom window and then we raised the blinds and saw the beginnings of a nest.

Anonymous said...

not sure what kind of bird they are but I can look in my big book of birds and try and figure it out.

we have robins in our hanging baskets. Every you

It is a fun and educational thing to watch...your right thought 4 is young for the circle of life

Anonymous said...

I suspect they are house finches.
Hi! Not sure you remember me...
I still enjoy reading the escapades of the lil' one.