Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Were you to sit yourself down in Robbo’s favorite comfy chair in the library at Port Swiller Manor, you would find to your immediate right, just beyond a small occasional table loaded to overflowing with books and covered in hot beverage rings, a large window. This window looks out into the back yard of the Manor’s demesne and generally takes in the flower garden, the tree line and the gels’ rope swing. In the immediate foreground, it offers a view of the patio one floor down and the side of the back deck at eye level. If you were to slouch down just so to look under the table, you would be able to see both the lower bird feeder hanging from the underside of the porch and a bird house attached to one of its supporting pillars (one of those Williamsburg – or, as we like to say for reasons too complicated to explain here, “Weeeyamsburg” - glazed bottles).
As I say, this is Robbo’s favorite chair, in which he spends as much of his leisure time as possible. One of the primary reasons why he likes it so much is the view described above, to which he often turns in contemplation of the sky, the light, the clouds, the various flora and fauna that visit from time to time and other manifestations of the Maker’s handiwork. (We are also very close to the outer marker for air traffic coming in to Reagan National from the North, and I confess that teh little boy inside me never gets tired of seeing the coo-el jets powering down overhead.)
I mention the bird bottle. We put it up when we first moved in thirteen years ago. (I’ve a hazy recollection that it was a housewarming present from somebody.) In that time, I have seen multiple broods of chicks raised in it, usually either wrens or sparrows. However, the other morning as I sat idly gazing down, I suddenly spotted what had heretofore not been much of a regular visitor to the immediate vicinity of the porch and patio, a bluebird. He was sitting on the deck railing looking indignant, and every now and again would jump off to go after other birds trying to get at the feeder. (Truth be told, it really is a bit too close to the bottle, but numerous onslaughts by deer, squirrel and raccoon had left its corner the only viable spot to hang it.) He also started flying up and perching in the ivy around the windowsill no more than two feet from me, fluttering up every now and again to attack his reflection in the glass.
Peering more closely, I suddenly spotted the reason for Mr. BB’s actions; peeping out from the neck of the bottle was Mrs. BB.
This genuinely surprised me. I’ve often seen bluebirds in the yard. But it’s always been my understanding that they like to nest right on the edges of open spaces. (Indeed, there are several birdhouses in the neighborhood – including one of our own in the little area behind the back hydrangea hedge- that they have inhabited over the years.) But I never thought they would take up residence in what is a comparatively confined space and one so close to the house.
On the one hand, I was delighted. I love bluebirds, considering them to be amongst the handsomest of the local native species and also admiring their self-contained, aggressive attitude toward the world.
On the other, I was disturbed. You see, within the next couple of weeks, the support to which the bird bottle is attached will be no more: This evening, we signed the contract for the construction of the new porch, and the process is rayther going to involve first getting rid of the old, rotty one.
At the moment, I’m not really sure what (if anything) I can do about the bluebirds. I’m virtually certain that no chicks have been hatched yet (it’s far too early), but I don’t know if any eggs have been laid.
I know that Nature is red in tooth and claw and that things happen to nests of eggs or chicks all the time – branches falling down, lightning strikes, invasion by predators and so forth. But I also feel the tug from that part of Man’s soul that is above Nature. (No, it’s not Bambi-like anthropomorphic sentimentality. More like the responsibility of stewardship.)
Not so much as to halt construction, you understand. The bird bottle has to come down one way or another. But enough to do a little research to see whether there is any way to transfer it to another spot within the immediate vicinity without damaging or harming its content. I think I’m going to call around to some local pest control outfits and see if they have any recommendations. Who knows? “Humane” transfers have become all the rage these days. Why, my own Sistah, rayther than summarily tossing the foxes that have been caught having a go at her hen coops straight into Casco Bay in brick-filled sacks, has ponied up the dosh to have them transported and released somewhere inland (where they are no doubt free to plague some other unfortunate shmucks). Why not the “humane” relocation of widdle birdies?
I think I’m going to do this even if there’s no realistic way to save the nest. The last thing I want is to try and take the thing down myself with a furious pair of bluebirds going for my head. Sparrows I could deal with: they seem to be fairly placid. Wrens are more aggressive, but tend to hover around the perimeter making lots of sound and fury but taking little practical action. Bluebirds, on the other hand, are more into the pecking and scratching thing, which I, frankly, can do without.
I’ll keep you posted.