by Marilyn and Keith Davis

"Sticks, Straw, and Bricks"

baby hawks        My Grandkids love the story of the Three Little Pigs. Over the years we told this story dozens of times. If we vary the story by one word, our Grandkids correct us, because the whole story line became engraved in their youthful minds, and they don’t want it changed.

        This spring we saw the same story taking place with birds building their nests. We had several Rosemary Bushes out front with long, dry stems of Bermuda woven through the branches. Before we could start spring cleaning the Rosemary out front, House Sparrows flew down and snipped off large sections of the Bermuda and carried it away. For nest building? A few days after this, a wind storm battered our trees and knocked off the small emerging leaves, making a leaf mat on the ground. The next day we saw Starlings pick up the leaves and stuff them in their beaks, and fly off. For nest building? Then we saw a Hummingbird hunting through a Cypress Tree, jabbing and grabbing stuff that looked like spider webs. For nest building? Our yard is full of busy, busy birds carrying all kinds of stuff in their beaks. It’s that time of year and they gotta find just the right stuff to build their nests.

        The Three Little Pigs had only a few construction methods for their sticks, straw, and bricks. Birds have many. There’s the ‘cup’, the ‘cavity’, the ‘burrow’, the ‘mound’, the ‘scrape’, the ‘platform’, and the ‘pendant’ nest. Some are merely depressions on the top of the ground, some are in trees and bushes, on power poles, on houses and barns, in burrows and cavities made by other animals, or in burrows and cavities they make themselves. They use feathers, rocks, rootlets, animal hair, straw, grasses, sticks, bark, leaves, etc. etc. etc. Each specie has their own unique construction plan for a nest. Each bird builds a nest best suited to lay eggs and hatch baby birdies.

        It’s spring. It’s ‘baby bird’ time. Enjoy the early morning hours (6:00 - 7:30 a.m.) when the air is full of bird songs and bird activity. If you have bird questions or want to know about the Red Cliffs Audubon Monthly Meetings and Field Trips, then call 435 673-0996. Public is always welcome. Marilyn Davis is the artist this week.

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