Friday, March 30, 2012

Robin's Nest Update

Last night, after I finished putting natural fertilizer pellets on half the front lawn, I checked the robin's nest and there were three eggs! It was too dark to take a picture and I was hoping this morning when I left for work she would still be off the nest, but no, I peeked around the corner and she was sitting on the nest. So either there is just three eggs, or more likely, earlier this morning she laid a fourth and is sitting on it. Since she started on the nest today, then the babies will probably hatch out around the weekend after Easter. Learn more cool facts about robins at

Also here are the other nest cam links that I promised earlier.

Heron cam is wonderful. It has sound, and you can hear the herons making their strange calls, it starts out kinda like a chicken and ends up like a bull frog. Also, because of the sound, you can minimize it on your screen and when you hear activity pop it back up. Last spring I saw several instances of one heron giving the other sticks to refurbish the nest. It's crazy to see how much some of these trees sway in the wind, but the herons don't mind a bit.

I also love to follow the New York University Red tails. This year it is Bobby and Rosie. The first link is for the camera and the second link is to the blog that will tell you the whole story

Then we have the bald eagles in Norfolk Virgina, they actually fed all three of their eaglets last year. I was sure the third and smallest eaglet was going to bite it as they often do in a raptor's nest. But know, there was enough food to go around

And finally, our own Ohio peregrine falcon pair at Rhodes Tower. Last year Durand laid five eggs, but she was still too young and they either weren't fertile or she just didn't have the focus to sit on them. This year she is sitting on two and should do just fine.

Happy nest watching!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Robin Pictures 2011


Yesterday I was working in the herb bed, adding new soil and pulling up starts, when I noticed a robin hanging out around one of our pine trees. The robin had a long grass in its mouth and on a hunch, I turned to look at our front porch. There was a nest in progress on the top tier of a plant stand Dad got me a couple years ago.

This is especially heartening because of our robin experience last year.
Last year around this time, I was loading up recycling on my Friday off. It was a gray but warmish March day, when spring was still a promise rather than here in full force like this year. I noticed this robin, peeking up at me over the front of our walk way with several long grasses in its mouth. How neat, I thought, he's building a nest somewhere. Little did I know. When I got home hours later from errands, a nest was fully formed on one of our bird feeders, stored on the top tier of the plant stand. This was our first nest at the house.

I paid close attention to progress. So much so, that I could tell if the robin was sitting on her nest on a sunny evening as soon as I pulled into the driveway. When the eggs hatched in late April, I spent a whole day in the herb garden planting and potting. It wasn't long before I noticed little scratchy sounds. When I looked about I realized that the robin, her beak full of worms, was hopping/running all around me, trying to get to the nest unnoticed yet unwilling to turn her back on me to feed her young. She would peer at me from around the cone flowers, dance around the salvia, and skitter behind a pot.

I loved working with an ear cocked, listening to this quiet yet profound sound of the mama robin literally two, three, four feet away. Sometimes I wouldn't realize how close I was to her and be surprised by her within arm's length.

She refused to go on the porch though and feed her young while I was in the bed, so I began to work my gardening around her, spacing out my trips to the potting boxes or garage for supplies so every ten minutes or so, she got a window to feed them. I would have loved to watch her feed them, but I honestly believe she couldn't override her instincts to not turn her back on me.

I got annoyed, wishing she would get that I wasn't going to hurt her nest but you know, I can't talk Robin, so I just made sure to go get something or do something else every ten or fifteen minutes.

It only takes a robin like, five seconds to find a worm though, so, I had an afternoon filled with hearing a robin rattle around the garden. I'm looking forward to this again this year.

When Andrew and I got back from a vacation, the chicks had went from feathered fluff balls to fledglings, each day, one left the nest to join Papa Robin under one of our pine trees. Until I came home one night to the last one in the nest. The urge to get a picture was too much, but I scared the fledge and he jumped down from the plant stand, chirping his indignation as he raced across the front porch and took a kamikaze dive off the other end, racing for all he was worth towards the pine trees where I saw an adult robin waiting.

In less than a week, the robin was on another set of eggs. I was thrilled. Between these and Mom and Dad's nests, there was going to be a ton of robins hatched out that I could track that year. Then. Disaster struck.

On May 23rd of last year, tornado strength winds pushed through the neighborhood, I remember coming home, and seeing mama robin on top of her nest. As I looked at the debris around me and though of our roof I wondered...did she sit on the nest the whole time the storm raged past, and if so, what must that have been like through her eyes. Over the next two weeks as the bulk of the remodeling and re-roofing were done, I realized with a sinking heart that the eggs were not likely to hatch as there was just too much activity for her to sit on them. Having me putter about the herb garden was one thing, but the numerous trucks, noises, and crew heck, just the sound of roofing, kept her away, and in some ways, this seemed to magnify the sadness of the whole storm event for me.

After a three weeks, I tossed the eggs, I checked and they were already light as air from everything inside them evaporating...and I tossed the nest. I really wish I hadn't because robins can easily clutch three times in a summer. It wasn't long before I noticed robins hopping around with long grasses in their mouths. I'm not sure if this pair was a different pair or the same pair who had had enough of the front porch, but, now they were building a nest on our meter box on the south end of the house. I worried the eggs wouldn't hatch, that the metal would just fry them in the hotter hours, and Andrew worried it was a fire hazard. Well, there was no fire, and the eggs didn't hatch. I tried not to be too depressed.

And here we are in a new year and the robins are back on the front porch. Let's hope nothing disrupts them this year and I'm telling you, I'm leaving the nest up until labor day. Are they the same pair? Could be. Is it just a great spot for robins to bet. You can look for robin shelf plans on the internet or order a robin shelf from a place like Amazon, who knows maybe Wild Bird too.

I'm interested to see if any robins reuse nesting spots at Mom and Dad's house. They had a robin's nest in a set of antlers Dad had on the hunting cabin, and an old bird feeder Mom had at the pond. When the antler nest fledged, Dad took it away to power wash the cabin and as soon as he finished the wash, a new nest was built. Each site of Mom and Dad's fledged twice, with out one, a total of 14 robins hatched out to take their chances in the great wild yonder. I have no idea how many would survive statistically, let's say one...that's probably generous.

Below are pictures of the front porch nest and the chicks/fledglings,the antler and bird feeder nests. I will keep photo documenting the new construction of the nest and add it later.

Nests are one of those things, that once you start looking for them, you see them everywhere. Yesterday at Lowe's I saw a sparrow fly into the nursery as I was at the register. With a grass in it's mouth I watched it hop from perch to perch until it swooped up to an eve and I saw it arrange it nest. One of the best things about fall for me, is seeing all the birds and squirrels' nests in the trees once the leaves have dropped off. When I post next, I will post some links to some of my favorite live bird cams...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

One of the best things in Life...

is line dried sheets. From April, or, for this year, from March, to October I line dry our sheets. There is nothing like stretching out flat on sweet smelling sheets after a hard day of (in rough chronological order)
Watering the herb garden and vegetable beds
Going to the Farmer's Market
Harvesting herbs and vegetables
Mowing the lawn
Hanging out by the pond, reading under a tree during the hottest hours of the day.
Enjoying a nice grill out on my parent's back porch
Walking one of the dogs at the club
Sitting on our front porch, with Andrew beside me and writing in my journal.
Taking a nice long shower or bath using a line up of favorite homemade scrubs, facials, soaps and shampoos.
If weather permits and I can crawl into bed with the window open, even better.

If you have never line dried sheets outside, I recommend it. Yes, they are a little scratchy, but it's the good kind of scratchy, that's the only way I can explain it. The smell of sunshine and fresh air can lighten up my soul in ways nothing else can. Hang the sheets out on a day you know you will be doing lots of stuff outside and once you finally pull the covers up, stretch your toes toward the end of the bed and sigh with the satisfaction of a great day. That's what I do anyway.

Some Tips:
Always wet some paper towels or a cleaning rag with water and wrap around the whole line and walk up and down the line to clean off any residual dirt/dust.

Take the sheets down while the sun is still fairly well up from the horizon before the dew sets in on the sheets.

Don't worry about a bird bombing your sheets, in all the years I've done this, I just had that happen once, and my parents clothesline is surrounded by lots of trees birds hang out in.

For extra indulgence:
Be on the hunt for vintage pillowcases at antique shops, auctions, and online (etsy is a great source) vintage embroidered pillowcases are like little pieces of art with flowers, kittens and other natural elements. The cotton used in vintage pillowcases is much thicker, I don't know if it's thread count per se, or just how they used to make them, but you'll notice that vintage pillowcases in good condition are incredibly more luxurious than store bought. AND you are reusing instead of new-consuming. Here is a sample of some vintage cases I have.