Thursday, April 25, 2013

Past Deadline: Birdhouse for Lease

Here is the April 25/13 edition of Past Deadline, published in The Perth Courier.
Birdhouse for lease
 A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the glacier covering my patio and how determined I was to help it along in its slow retreat.
Fortunately rain, sun and wind took care of the problem and the ice has disappeared – despite the fact that some days it feels as if winter has returned.
All I’ve had time to do, unfortunately, is watch as spring slowly unfurls in my backyard. The patio furniture is still tarp-covered.
I tend to keep an eye on things in the backyard while doing the infernal dishes (speaking of something that never disappears).
While I haven’t had much time lately to get the outdoor chores done, there are other creatures that have been very busy in the housekeeping department (and last week’s column serves to reinforce the fact I am not typically one of them).
I’m talking about the birds.
One day last week I was at the kitchen window doing whatever it is I do to get short people out the door and off to school, when I noticed a flurry of activity.
It was a nice day – cool (if you can imagine), but sunny. Robins were flitting around gathering debris out of the garden. Juncos were busy picking up birdseed from under the feeder whilst sparrows worked from above. Squirrels, chipmunks and a rabbit frolicked nearby.
Then I noticed a pair of little wrens.
A couple of years ago Boychild built a bluebird house as part of the Super Kids In Parks program with the Friends of Murphys Point. That spring, we attached it to a big wooden clothesline pole in our backyard and, very quickly, it was occupied by a nesting pair of wrens.
When they were finished I cleaned out the box so that it would be ready for new occupants but, alas, last summer it was unoccupied.
So I spied the wrens flitting about and thought to myself, “Self, you need to go check that birdhouse to make sure it is still clean.”
The kids went off to school and I settled in my office, where the front window faces the street and, in most seasons, is obscured by the branches of a very large maple tree.
Before too long I noticed movement in the tree and, as if they were trying to tell me something, there was a pair of wrens hopping about in the branches.
A little later I headed for the backyard armed with materials for birdhouse cleaning.
Birdhouses are much smaller than people houses and, thusly, the task is not terribly onerous. That said, one should be somewhat vigilant with this form of housekeeping as well.
Clearly I am not the Martha Stewart of birdhouse cleaning, either.
I opened the side and was greeted, not surprisingly, by an assortment of spider webs. What was a surprise, however, was the little wasp nest.
Fortunately it was unoccupied and was easily removed. That went a long way to explain why nobody wanted to reside there last year. Apparently they snuck in between my infrequent cleanings. Nervy.
Now that the house is clean, I haven’t seen a single wren.
In fact, things have been generally quiet on the bird front, which leads me to believe I completely missed Bird Moving Day. Is there some sort of Quebec-like tradition in the avian world, too? I did not get the memo.
Well, it’s still only April, and since it doesn’t even really feel entirely like spring yet I’ll hold out hope there is some procrastinating little wren-like bird couple out there that will stumble upon our wasp-free abode yet. It’s clean! And free!
Footnote: Spent a little time on a Patio Recovery Mission tonight! There’s hope!

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