bird nest in shoe

crow in bare tree

Crow DIY?

Something is going on in the big Norway maple that shades my back garden. There has always been a family of crows living around here, but lately I’ve noticed a lot of flapping in that tree and heard a variety of crow vocalizations.

The other day was quite windy, and when I started my usual tour of the garden to see what was new, I found lots of foot-long twigs on the small round (well, roundish) lawn occupied by the table, chairs, and bird bath. Had the crows disassembled an old nest, or did a new one under construction fall apart?

twigs from crows' nest

If you were a crow, you could make this stuff into a nest.

 

I gathered up the twigs and put them on the table, adding freshly fallen ones to the pile through the day. I know nothing about nest-building, but wondered if the birds might decide to re-use the materials. So far they haven’t, although I’ve seen crows bringing new twigs to the site. That, and occasional wing-flapping sounds and crow calls, indicates that work is still under way. The previous collapse, if that’s what it was, hasn’t discouraged them. I’ve been thinking this may not be the best tree for their purposes, but the crows haven’t asked for my opinion.

Shoe Bird 1Somehow one feels privileged when birds decide to nest in one’s garden. I’ve found the sock-like nests of bushtits in different shrubs over the years, and in 2015, there were the Bewick’s wrens, a.k.a. the Shoe Birds, nesting in our back porch.

So I hope things work out for the crow family, although I’m a bit nervous about the defensive dive-bombing they engage in near active nests. And there might be deposits other than twigs falling on the table, chairs, and gardener. Maybe I’d better start wearing a hat.

Crow photo by Pixabay

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The Shoe Bird

Birds nest in various spots in my garden. House sparrows, of course — last year they moved into a long-disused birdhouse attached to the garage, and have been very busy producing more sparrows. I have found three bushtit nests in recent years. The latest one was in a ceanothus right next to the front walk. Sadly, something (probably a crow) yanked it out recently. I found the nest (a small work of art made of lichens, spider silk, dryer lint, grasses and feathers) lying on the street, under a power line where the crow probably took and dropped it. I hope the nest was unoccupied at the time.

And now we have the Shoe Bird! My preferred footwear in the garden is a pair of Duck Shoes — cheap rubber shoes that slip on and off easily. Until the advent of Nelly the Newf, I used to kick them off on the back porch, but since Nelly likes to chew shoes, I resorted to parking the duck shoes on a beam that holds up the porch roof.

A couple of weeks ago, I found an amazing lot of plant material (dried moss and grass) stuffed into both shoes. Since I’d worn them the day before, I was quite surprised. The creature responsible turned out to be a Bewick’s wren. Once I observed it stuffing the shoes, I removed the current ones and put them inside, replacing them with a worn out pair I hadn’t gotten around to disposing of. I made sure to put all the nest material into the replacement shoes. The bird didn’t seem to notice, just got on with nest-building.

I have no idea whether it’s intending to hatch out a brood of tiny wrens in the shoe. Wikipedia says Bewick’s wren males sometimes build “dummy nests,” hoping to attract females to take over and finish the job. (Hmm. No comment; we’re talking about birds). Maybe that’s what’s going on here. I don’t know, but in the meantime, the bird is an interesting addition to the scene.

Shoe Bird 1

Shoe Bird 2

Shoe Bird 3

And, just because it’s so gorgeous, here is the second flower to bloom on clematis “Pink Fantasy.”

May 24, 2015