Thursday, June 7, 2018

Windbreaks and Nesting.

Always stressful when birds chose to nest in or near the vegetable garden. One year the Close Mockingbird pair had their nest in what, to make it sound functional, we gardeners like to call a windbreak. This windbreak is on the more northern fence around the vegetable garden, the feeble excuse being to keep anti-social and sometimes fierce north winds in check. It wasn't always a windbreak. It started out as a pair of Apple trees, which after very severe instructions from me did for a while become what's called an Espalier and they did look elegant for about ten days a year. These days it's more of a bunch of green stuff with a climbing rose twined into it, all if it has to be hacked back at least three times a year. The whole thing is a pest hole for the Cedar Rust, and it should really be dug up and ceremoniously burned. But the northern windbreak is ideal for nesting and there's a particular Lichen that grows on the trunks of the Apples that employs the x factor of fascination to ensure the security of its home. It's one of those Lichens which toward the end of the year decide to send up stalks that look like little beady eyes.

When the Close Mockingbirds had their nest in the windbreak I could glance at their two chicks, I'd get an "aren't they perfect" from the proud male of their pair and he'd go on about his business. In subsequent years it's become quite  fashionable for members of the local Chipping Sparrow community to nest in the windbreak, in the Cucumbers, the climbing Squash, pretty much anywhere. But one of the things about Chipping Sparrows is no matter how much I tiptoe around if I go anywhere near one of their nests they go straight for the hat and I have hell to pay. This year a pair of Tree Swallows adopted a nest box which I'd casually attached to a fence post to keep it dry while I gave huge consideration to a more appropriate location. Being tourists I assumed Tree Swallows would be over bearing, obnoxious, critical and full of themselves, but they've been a total joy to share the garden with, no snapping at me, none of this Chipping Sparrow Rottweiler behavior from them. Their chicks of course are a different matter. Recently if I go anywhere near their box, there's a bunch of noise, a big quarrel and out pops the greediest little head expecting to be fed. The maw is a bright, custard yellow. And you have to wonder what places and sights that mouth will see when time comes to fly away.

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