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Published:July 12th, 2011 10:55 EST
Who Rules the Nest?

Who Rules the Nest?

By Donna Cavanagh

The rafters of my back porch are a haven for birds looking to set up home and feather their nests. I think birds look at my back porch much the same way that I look at beachfront property: the ultimate real estate holding. 

Under that roof, they have shade from the summer sun, shelter from winds and storms, and they are literally two flips of their wings away from the backyard bird feeder and bird bath. If I could charge birds rent, I would make more than a landlord in Manhattan.  However, I have never met a bird with cash, so I have long abandoned the dream of being an aviary rental tycoon.

For the record, I do have standards on who can lease my porch eaves for nest building.  While the sparrows and finches are welcome, I discriminate against the Robins and Blue Jays. Why? Because they dive bomb my dog LuLu as she sits on the green wicker chair on the porch, which to be frank, is her throne. Here from her chair she looks over her kingdom -- the yard. It is her haven be it winter, spring, summer or fall. 

The blue jays and the robins do not believe in co-existence with the humans of my household or my dogs.  A few years back, I did allow them to build a nest, but they soon made it clear that no non-birds were allowed in what they perceived was now their territory.  They tried to intimidate us off the porch with squawking, bird poop and finally buzzing by  us until we got scared and left. This did not go over well with my LuLu who did not need to add a fear of feathered animals to her long list of already well-developed phobias. 

So, I took action and removed the blue jay and robin nests.  Did they take the hint graciously?  Not at all.  For two weeks, we battled. They would build; I would demolish.  They sat perched on the fence staring me down- trying to intimidate me off the porch. I did not flinch except for the day that the movie The Birds  happened to be playing on cable.  I admit on that day, I didn`t do anything to piss them off just in case they also were able to catch the flick and get ideas about how to attack humans. Finally, the birds gave up and took their nests elsewhere. I guess time became an issue for laying eggs.

This year, the sparrows and finches returned and built their nests. The last of the baby sparrows flew off right after Memorial Day. Two days later, the finches busied themselves building their nest.  Finches are amazing. I think they have read Hillary Clinton`s It takes a Village because it`s more than one finch who constructs the little condominium, and it`s more than one bird who brings food back to the babies. 

I love when I  hear the first chirps of baby birds.  Those chirps provide soothing background music when we spend time on the porch. Yes, humans, mommy birds and baby birds all mingle effortlessly until it`s time for the babies to take flight. 

Last week, I went out to my porch to enjoy my morning coffee, and I was surprised to see the baby finches all lined up along one of the rafters.  They were screaming with excitement and they were definitely in a state of panic. I knew they were not ready to fly; they knew they were not ready to fly. I scolded them to go back in their nest; however, as with my human baby, my words of authority seemed to have little or no effect.  Two adult finches buzzed by and swooped down on the babies and pushed them back into the nest. Then, I heard what sounded like a lot of yelling going on in there.  The mother was apparently ticked off that one brazen baby bird led the rest of her offspring out of the nest without her permission.  I`m not sure but I think I heard something that sounded like, "And if he told you to go and jump off a bridge, would you do that too?" 

Mommy yelling is the same in every language. The birds stayed put for two more days and then no more chirping.  I knew they had flown the coop. One morning, an adult finch came and sat on the knee wall of the porch while I sipped my coffee.  She just sat and looked at me.  I`m not sure, but I think she was saying, "Kids: they are difficult aren`t they? Anyway, thanks for the room and I am giving you notice that we moved out."

I wonder if the next generation will be back next year.