Sure Signs of Spring

On my way home from work last week, I stopped in a sports complex parking lot to take a peak at the Monk  (AKA Quaker) Parakeet colony where these beautiful birds were busily building and reinforcing the colony nests that look like condominiums. They are busy, very busy right now preparing to procreate their species. They are noisy, messy and fun to watch. And appropriately a group of parakeets is known as a “chatter” of parakeets.

Monk Parakeet
Nest building time

A recent trip to my sister’s home in Burton Texas rewarded me with some beautiful flowers bursting into bloom as Spring arrives in full force.

Climbing Pinkie Rose

Climbing Pinkies bursting into bloom
A new arrival in Burton – A friend for Burton Ernie!!

A short stop at LadyBird Lake found a few year round and some winter residents.

Female Mallard
Green Heron

Opportunities to enjoy Spring rituals abound. Turn off the cell phone, take a deep breath, go for a walk,  become aware of all the wonders that Mother Nature provides for our enjoyment if we only pay attention. And just like Spring which is a renewal, you will begin to fill invigorated by the beauty that surrounds us all in our ordinary lives.

Happy bird searching!!!

Nest Architecture

In the Springtime, Mother Nature signals all her bird species to begin the long process of building a family. A family needs a place to live and grow, and the nests of different bird species differ as much as the birds who build them. Some are meticulously woven and others are just a shallow hollowed space in the dirt or mud. Some are colonial nesters and others are solitary. The various materials used differ by species as well, with some bird species having a particular fondness for certain nest-building materials.

As the young birds grow, the nest takes a beating. Throughout the whole process, many bird species will continue bringing in twigs, sticks, moss to repair and reinforce the basic nest structure if need be. And after the young birds have fledged and the nest is abandoned, it may fall into complete disarray and remain that way until the following Spring when the parents may return and “remodel and update” as they begin the procreation cycle again. Or, another bird species may decide that what remains is a fine home and may move in to raise their brood.

Cavity Dwellers
Oriole Nest

Bird nest 2

Pileated Woodpecker Home


Carolina Wren Nest
Baby Eagles


Juvenile Osprey

Whatever the building materials, wherever it may be located, Spring is just around the corner as evidenced by bluebonnets dotting our highways, redbud trees bursting into bloom and the light green tinge on many trees signaling that the sap is running, time is of the essence and a new cycle of life has begun. Birds are feverishly seeking mates, selecting a nest site, gathering nesting materials as the race is on to have a home for their offspring. Everybody needs a home.

Happy bird searching!!!

Nests – Carolina Wren

Seeing a bird’s nest abandoned in a tree or lying on the ground evokes so many pleasurable feelings. As a child, finding a bird’s nest was similar to finding a beautiful treasure. I would rush to pick it up, carry it home and place it on my dresser. I was always fascinated by things in nature…rocks, leaves, shells, bird nests, bird feathers, driftwood….they were all precious objects that gave me pleasure in how they looked or how they felt in my hands and my imagination would fly with the prospect of what stories they could tell if they only could.

The feather soared high in the sky helping propel a bird in its daily chore of searching and securing food. It perched in the tops of trees and scanned the panoramic landscape. It was IMG_7326slipped between the beak of the bird as it preened. The nest held eggs that ultimately hatched into babies that grew into birds who then abandoned the nest since it had served it’s purpose.

Examining the nest can be an interesting activity.The kinds of materials used to build the nest can sometimes give us hints as to the species of bird that constructed it. A cracked flower pot turned on its side inside a basket on the front porch makes an ideal nesting spot in the eyes of a Carolina Wren. An old boot, floppy hat, or any type of container may prove to be the chosen spot for a wren’s nest. Male and female will gather sticks, leaves, twigs, string, roots, plastic, hay and build a messy nest that tunnels down and to the side. She may line the tunnel and the inside of the nest with grass, moss, dried leaves or feathers. Just imagine how many trips they must make to construct this fine piece of architecture. The Carolina Wren that I discovered one day on the front porch of a country farmhouse had done just that. I could hear tiny peeps of begging baby birds and their parents would flit in and out constantly delivering food for them, totally undisturbed by my near-by presence. Looking into the nest, I could barely see a few tiny beaks. These babies successfully fledged and the nest was abandoned. This is not always the case though. Many times the Carolina Wren makes a bad choice in nest location making it vulnerable to predators…cats, raccoons or possums.Bird nest 2

That old cracked flower pot had been recycled by a small Carolina Wren. I guess beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder and “This Old Pot or This Old Boot” was just fine for her “This Ole House”..

Happy bird searching!!!