Wednesday 6 May 2020

Nests, Old and New

I was unable to create a poem on "birds" two Poetry Mondays ago, so I'm taking it as the theme for this post instead.

Birds make their nests in both leaf-bearing and evergreen trees -- but only the leaf-bearing trees reveal the secrets in their branches each year. What is well-hidden in the summer becomes visible in the other three seasons.

My walking circuit is not a big one, but there are several nests from other years evident along the way.

Nest number one:

Far . . .

. . . and near. It was a breezy day which accounts for both the blurriness and the trailing bits going sideways.

Nest number two:

Far . . .

. . . and near.

Nest number three:

Far . . .

. . . and near.

As for new nests, a crow couple has built one in an evergreen tree that borders the back of our house lot.

It's interesting to watch their comings and goings. Sometimes they're both hidden in the branches where the nest is. Sometimes they're both hanging out nearby. But most of the time when I see them, one is arriving for duty and then the other leaves for a break. The one who's arriving caws to announce his or her presence, after which the one going on break bursts out of the greenery with what I can only describe as visible relief.

I remember feeling like that when we were raising little kids too.

It's not that we don't love our children, or that we are tired of them. It's just that we all need a break now and then.

Here's the happy frazzled couple:

And here's a video of one of them diligently working at the new nest (middle of frame) (warning: all you can see is the crow's tail, but on the bright side, it's a short video):

These were taken about a month ago. It took awhile for the crows to build the nest. At first I could see them breaking twigs off larger branches that had fallen during the winter. They'd hold the branch with their feet and wrench off the twigs, holding a half dozen or so at a time in their beaks. Then they'd fly to our deck railing, rearrange them using the railing as a sort of table top, just like a person squaring a pile of paperwork, then fly into the evergreen to add them to the nest.

They did much the same for grass additions to the nest, plucking dead strands of grass from the lawn until they had a beakfull (is that not a word? autocorrect doesn't like it), then flying to the railing to rearrange it into a better order, then flying to the nest, and -- one presumes -- working it into the sticks.

We had a storm last week that brought wind and slushy snow, and I worried about those crows and their possibly egg-filled nest.

This is how our back yard looked after the snow:

It doesn't look like much snow, does it? It was turning to water as it hit the ground. But, on my car, it piled up so much I had to clear it off repeatedly when going for groceries and to work.

And it was cold enough to form ice on the branches - can you see it below, on the two branches that make a sideways "v" in the middle of the photo?

Far . . .

. . . and near.

So I was a bit worried about Mr. and Mrs. Crow. Would they decide their tree was stuck in winter and move to another tree that might be located in spring instead?

Happily, they did not. I've since see them to-and-fro-ing in the back yard and feel reasonably sure their household is still operating. I'm hoping to hear, and see, baby crows in the fullness of time.

Along with the crows, we've also had some returning finch sightings, along with the chickadees who've stayed through the winter. And the robins have been in full voice with their spring songs.

More signs of spring to come in the next post .......


Bonnie said...

I enjoyed this post! Nests are always interesting to me too. I love to watch birds gathering items for the nests. We also have quite a lot of squirrels here that build large nests in the trees. It is all fun to watch and a happy sign of Spring.

Elephant's Child said...

I am endlessly impressed at bird's architectural skills - and at their diligence at parents. I am pretty sure I would fail on both counts.
I do hope that their family survives and thrives - and that you share the magic.

dinthebeast said...

We have crows galore, and down in Oakhurst there are a bunch of ravens walking around in the parking lots, hoping for Taco Bell scraps.
Haven't seen any nests just yet, but out here they could be anywhere in the woods and we wouldn't necessarily see them from the road.
Briana said she saw a hummingbird, but I missed it. The little brown bird brigade sometimes hangs out right outside the window and fascinates/torments the cat, although since there are at least three cats outside I don't think he'd be too much more danger to them were he allowed out there.
Blue jays, robins, Briana said she saw a quail, but I missed that one also. Several mallards, a pintail, some unidentified white duck-ish bird, three Canada geese and a wild turkey on the pond, some vultures and a big old hawk circling above it, most days.
There are several unfamiliar calls coming from the woods on the river side of the road as I do my daily walk, and I'm curious as to what sort of feathery creature is making them.
I'm going to have to practice looking up more when I walk if I hope to see any nests. The trees here are mostly evergreen and the deciduous ones already have their foliage, so I may be too late this year. We'll see.
Briana has another surgery tomorrow, after which she may come home if they don't decide to keep her another day.
She's in good spirits and says thanks to everyone for the good wishes.

-Doug in Sugar Pine

Anonymous said...

Beakfull looked wrong to me, but I had to check, beakful, which my spell checker doesn't like either. While we see an awful lot of birds here, we are too high to see any nesting. It must be interesting.

baili said...

A beautiful sharing dear Jenny !

i loved watching your shots ,so well taken and shared ,looked like a perfect work of art along with your intriguing words :)

among nature nurtures our soul deeply and think it is great thing :)
last year when men brought by hubby were cutting down the branches of neem tree ,it took them long effort and time to remove crow nest ,i was inside and totally unaware of this
when i knew about this it saddened me a lot ,what hurt me more those men threw out the magnificently built nest :(
my sons and hubby kept admiring the hard work of crow and beauty of nest which annoyed me
i wish i could see that nest and share it with friends :(

weather is being kind here either ,after rain storm two days back our temperature has dropped from 45 to 33 and we are so relived :)
keep taking good care my friend ,stay well and healthy !

baili said...

Dear Jenny i loved watching these truly captivating captures ,so beautifully taken and shared :)

i can see how your walks are embellished with tranquility and contemplation over Nature :)
i can relate so well as being from village i used to witness many big and small nests on t trees we used to climb sometimes and would encounter crow family unexpectedly :)
last year when two men brought by hubby were cutting down the branches of neem tree ,it took then long effort and time to remove crow nest ,i was inside and not aware to what is happening ,when i came out and hubby and kids told me about nest magnificently built nest i was bit sad for crows but more for not being able to see that nest ,those men threw it out ,i was upset each time when nest was praised by hubby and boys ,so annoying i wish i could see and share it with friends
weather is being kind here either ,storm came two nights ago and temperature dropped from 45 to 33 ,this is reliving indeed ,relief for few days :)
keep taking great care my friend,stay well and healthy!

LL Cool Joe said...

Snow?? I've been sunbathing. I thought summer was here, and that's saying something here in the UK.

I'm glad Mr & Mrs Crow decided to stay in their home. :)

River said...

I would love to see baby crows! There are adults around and I'm sure they build nests but I've never seen any.

Red said...

If you can, watch chickadees or nuthatches build and then raise a family. They are very busy little critters.

Chickens Consigliere said...

I think spring might finally be here. We have a basketball hoop in the driveway that is weighted down with a big bag of sand. The birds in the neighborhood like to remove strands of the bag to make their nests. Soon it will be a big pile of sand, I think. They are fun to watch, though.

Steve Reed said...

Birds' nests always look so precarious, and yet, they're apparently built to last! We have some in our garden that have persisted for a couple of years, even after the birds are long gone.

Marie Smith said...

I’ve never seen baby crows or gulls. Strange. Hope you get some photos!

jenny_o said...

I would love to see squirrels building their nests, or even just see the nest - that's something I've never been lucky enough to see.

jenny_o said...

If I had to build a nest I'm sure it would fall apart in the first breeze.

I'm thinking it's going to be hard to see those babies until they're at least adolescents. The evergreen is too dense. And I can't figure out how to get the audio on my camera to pick up low volume sounds. Perhaps they'll be loud enough for it to work - I hope so. And I will definitely share if I get anything interesting.

jenny_o said...

Wow, Doug - I didn't realize Brian's trip to the hospital was more than a straightforward antibiotic prescription - that sounds like a really severe infection. I hope things go well with her surgery and she gets released soon.

Enjoy the exploration of your new habitat - sounds like there is a lot to discover.

jenny_o said...

Unfortunately (for humans) the nests are hidden. The leaves will be out by the time the birds are nesting in the deciduous trees, and as you might have seen in the video, the evergreen boughs provide a lot of cover even in early spring. But it was a delight to see the crows gathering supplies for construction :)

Yeah, beakful and beakfull are both verboten, it seems. All I can find is "beak full" which doesn't work as intended in my sentence!

jenny_o said...

Oh yes, I can completely understand your frustration at not being able to see that nest! Even if they had taken some pictures it would have been a way to share it with you. And then with us!

I didn't realize your temperatures were already so hot - I'm glad you got some relief with the rain.

Thank you for your (as always) kind and thoughtful comment, dear friend! You stay well also.

jenny_o said...

I've published both comments (sorry for the delay in doing that) because I loved this sentence of yours - "I can see how your walks are embellished with tranquility and contemplation over Nature" - that is such a wonderful description of how I feel when I am outside. I am lucky to have trees and other greenery close to where we live. It really does provide me with that tranquility you describe. I wish everyone could have that.

jenny_o said...

"Snow??" - that was our reaction, too! lol

And we should know better, as it often snows this late. We're a forgetful bunch, apparently :)

jenny_o said...

They are likely well hidden - I've never seen baby crows except in photos. I have seen juveniles/adolescents, though. The parents were showing them how to hunt for insects in the grass, and "talking" to them in much different voices than what we usually hear. It was fascinating.

jenny_o said...

I would love to see that! I'm thinking the crows being so close will discourage smaller birds from nesting nearby, though. The crows are quite aggressive, actually. My husband saw "our" crows driving away a couple of others.

jenny_o said...

I can picture that! Just think, you're like Home Depot for the birds! Yesterday was garbage pickup here, and spring pickup too, so there were some piles of things along the road not in bags. I saw a crow pull a bunch of stuffing out of what looked like a large outdoor cushion. I bet he or she was thrilled to get all that soft stuff, just like your birds appreciate those strands.

jenny_o said...

They're really good at it, aren't they? We have ospreys here that use the same nests year after year. After the winter the nests look like they're starting to fall apart, but before you know it, they're all repaired and housing new little ospreys :)

jenny_o said...

I hope so, too, but I'm not counting on it - or if I do, they'll never be like your gorgeous shots, Marie - you have THE BEST nature photos!

I've never seen baby birds of any kinds - only the juveniles. They grow so fast, the opportunities would be limited, and they don't leave the nest until they're able to fly. But I hope to see juvenile crows and get some decent pictures.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

I looked up crows nests on Google. Crows typically make their nests in evergreens in a crotch of the tree or a horizontal branch. If there are no evergreens, they will go to a deciduous tree. That is much nicer for us as get to see nature’s House Hunters. I look out a a tall tree with a large nest 3/4s up. The only ones that I have ever seen using it is a squirrel.

I hope spring comes soon for you. We had an early spring but now it seems like winter weather and freezing temps are in our immediate future. 2020 has been a weird (and nasty) year.

e said...

Wonderful photos. I love both Spring and birds though I am far from a "birder." Be well, Ms. O.

Joanne Noragon said...

I wonder if some of those old nests belonged to squirrels?

messymimi said...

Ah, it is a joy to watch new parents build that house and raise those babies.

It's possible autocorrect doesn't like the word as you wrote it, "beakfull," because the regular spelling of "full" has the double l at the end, but any time you add it to the end of another word, you are supposed to drop the second l, "beakful". Although i doubt autocorrect would like that, either, it is technically correct. At least, according to my English teachers from back in the stone age.

jenny_o said...

I wonder if squirrels use abandoned birds' nests instead of making their own? I need to do some Googling of my own!

Your description of 2020 is right on. And the weather is the least of it, eh? I'm hoping things warm up for both of us soon.

jenny_o said...

No birder here, either - I just can't see that well to distinguish the finer points. Actually, I can't remember the finer points either :)

Thanks, e - you too.

jenny_o said...

That's entirely possible, and until I saw several comments on squirrels making nests, I hadn't even considered it. I always thought they nested in trees, but Google tells me they do both.

jenny_o said...

Autocorrect could learn a thing or two from your stone age teachers, Mimi :) (P.S. Mine were that era too)

Mr. Shife said...

Sorry about the snow. Yuck. My in-laws got snow this week and they aren't happy. We are getting more spring-like here in Idaho and should be making the jump to summer soon. Usually after Memorial Day is when it starts to warm up. Take care.

Martha said...

I used to burst out of the house with joy whenever I had a break from my kids. HAHAHA I loved being a mom but that time alone was essential!

I love watching the goings-on of bird families. So much activity and so much fun!

Diane Henders said...

That's a surprising number of nests! I guess we can't really see them here because so many of the trees are coniferous - they hide nests very well.

Tonight I heard the first Hermit Thrush song. Along with the singing of the frogs, it's a lovely evening orchestra!

dinthebeast said...

So it comes to my attention that today is world donkey day, although I may be too late in posting this for you to know to celebrate...

Briana is home, and the cat hasn't demolished anything lately.

-Doug in Sugar Pine

jenny_o said...

Nature can't be rushed, eh? But eventually spring will come.

jenny_o said...

Lol - I'm picturing you doing that, Martha!

I hope your weather gets milder soon so you can get out and garden!

jenny_o said...

I had to look up the hermit thrush song - it's amazing! Lucky you :)

And frog songs are an unforgettable part of spring from my childhood; lucky you there, too :)

jenny_o said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this and I hope I have more to share about this crow family as time goes on.

And again, thank you for sharing your experience with the endoscopy. I have heard other, quite unpleasant, stories from folks I know who have had one. It's good to know it's not always like that and I will just have to trust it will be okay if I need one.

Thanks for visiting, Laurie!

Chickens Consigliere said...

Well, one man's garbage is another bird's treasure, I guess. If I was a bird, I'd be thrilled with pillow stuffing to rest by bird tush on lol.

Mr. Shife said...

Yes, indeed, but I think we are all ready for it especially since we have been stuck at home more than usual.