The birds are back and around the house there is much to see. For example, I didn’t know that the pool sweep could also serve as a perch. One large blackbird will stand on the part of the sweep that is not submerged for long periods. He, or she, will ride the sweep like a bucking bronco as it moves around the pool. He shows off and preens and as the spirit moves him, he will deposit a bird turd into the pool.
Worse, the bird on the pool sweep attracts an audience of other blackbirds that look just like him. The audience is not content to watch from the trees that surround the pool. These observers want a much closer look at the brave pool sweep riding bronco bird so they perch at the edge all around the pool. It must be quite a thrill because the observing birds make discharges in the form of more bird droppings all around the pool. We love those birds for what they bring to the property.
Luck shines upon us when it comes to woodpeckers, too. Even though our house is sheathed in wood siding, they don’t attack the siding. Instead, they peck on a copper pipe that juts out of the chimney somewhere. The hammering sound on the metal happens at 6 a.m. on a regular basis. The chimney acts like a megaphone and the hammering noise is broadcast throughout the house, waking everyone. We love our acoustic woodpecker.
It’s a good thing, too, that we recently painted the garage and put a new roof on it. The remodeling makes it much cozier for the little birds who are making nests of mud in the eaves. Even though we haven’t had rain in a while, the mud has dribbled down the newly painted (white) facade of the garage. I am not sure what type of birds these are but they like community because there are about 20 nests in the eaves. These birds seem to have a lot of meetings where they talk a lot. We love our community-minded birds.
Some of our feathered friends are not as friendly. The jays guard the one place that I need to get to in the yard to turn on sprinklers. As I approach a jay will squawk first and as I get closer will dive on my head. And one jay will call in reinforcements. Before long I have three or four jays diving on my head. Maybe they are drought-conscious and don’t want me to turn on the sprinkler. I promise I am very conservative with any water usage. We love our drought-conscious jays.
We know that herons are around at night high in the bay trees. We know because wherever we park the cars, the herons will roost right above them and make their presence known. The artwork they leave on the cars is abstract and employs the splatter technique. We cherish the artwork and drive around with it for days because it is nearly impossible to get off the car without ruining the paint job. Even though we never see or hear them, we love our artistic herons.
Sometimes I will try to be extra nice to the birds and buy fancy birdhouses. The birds don’t like them. My taste must not be quite right. Instead, they build nests in the outdoor light fixtures; sometimes the light fixture is right next to the empty fancy birdhouse. So we don’t turn on any of those lights. The nests in the lights require keen engineering skills and we love them for those instincts.
Like family members, birds are always welcome here no matter their skills or personality. Just make the place better than when you got here.
Rich Moran drives around wine country looking for interesting birds.