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Monday, March 28, 2011

Battle on the Home Front


This nesting site has been the spot for many a controversy. Usually that controversy involves my husband, sometimes me and always a family of phoebes.    
  While bird watchers usually love phoebes, for their friendliness, their good parenting skills, and the way they eat thousands of annoying bugs throughout the summer, apparently some homeowners don't. Jeff doesn't like the way the phoebes use our porch as their last stop before returning to the nest. Actually it isn't so bad that they stop.  What is bad is that they poop with each stop.  This makes the picnic table less appealing - also the rocking chairs, the railing, the steps and anything else that happens to be on the porch when the phoebes make their pit stop.  He has finally convinced them to stay away from over the porch light fixtures but only after installing a variety of deterrents.  We even tried rubber snakes which worked for a while. The birds eventually became used to the snakes, even building their nest over the cobra's back.  The snakes are still there in the rafters, but now only seem to frighten our human guests.
The phoebes keep coming.  If you look closely at the nest photo at the top, you should notice that the downspout is covered with a piece of metal flashing.  The flashing has been folded into a tent shape so that it would seemingly be impossible to build a nest on top. Wrong. Our phoebes see it as a great nesting sight. They simple move behind the flashing so that it forms a protective wall with the nest between it and the log and stone wall of our home. It is probably safer than before.
The phoebes usually get in at least one brood before being chased out of that spot. It is not a big problem until summer comes with warm weather and lots of company who don't want to co-mingle with the phoebe droppings.  It is disconcerting to hose off and clean the porch only to have it messed up before guests get a chance to sit down.
Wednesday, it was a different sort of battle going on with the nest site.  It was a beautiful "proper" spring morning so I took my pot of tea and my mac laptop outside to write about the flickers. Phoebes were cheerfully working on their nest when suddenly everything changed.  Being human, and not speaking "phoebe" I'm not sure what the fight was over, but as it involved 2 pair of phoebes, I think it was over the nest.
The four birds flew through the flowers,

 around the spruce trees and into each other with a loud snapping noise that sounded like beaks snapping or maybe some wing action caused it. 
The snapping sounded like kids fighting with plastic straws. Birds landed on fence wires, . . .
. . . and empty plant hangers. No one stayed perched long for the spot was soon usurped by one of the other warriors.
I couldn't tell the birds apart, but finally the ruckus stopped and the winning couple went back to building their home and preparing for their family.
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4 comments:

Anne McCormack said...

Being a bird watcher, I have to support the phoebes! Let's hear it for insect-eating birds!

floweringmama said...

Oh I feel your pain. There's birds nesting in the eaves of the house and they are actually starting to cause damage now. Hubby is going to have to figure out someway to "fix" it or them.

Beyond My Garden said...

I think I might have to buy one of these nesting shelves advertised here. Maybe I can get the family to move a bit and at least stop the squabbling between my husband and me.
nellie

EG Wow said...

Hmmm. They are such pretty birds. What a shame they use YOUR area for THEIR pit stop!