Saturday, May 31, 2014

Surprise in a tree

A hazard for birds who choose to nest in garden centers and nurseries is the occasional nest built in a plant for sale!  Today I finished planting seven Green Giant Thujas.  As I nestled one plant into its new hole in the ground out popped a small grey-green frog before retreating back towards the trunk – a perfect perch from which to survey its new home.  After planting the last tree we found two tiny House Sparrow eggs broken in the bed of the truck.  Fortunately they were not formed, but were yolks inside very fragile egg shells.  Rushing back to the tree we found deep inside the dense center a beautifully woven and crafted nest.  The nest was a very deep and thickly woven mass of twigs, leaves larger than the sparrow itself, grasses, a tiny piece of shiny clear plastic for decoration.  What looked like the final touch was an amazing bit of architecture topping off the nest – an awning or umbrella!  A fairly good-sized whole oak leaf, many times bigger than the sparrow architect, was securely anchored at each end as part of the weaving and positioned as a perfect awning over the nest.  I did what any self-respecting lover of birds would do – I rushed back to the nursery and returned the nest.  They helped me find a location near where it had been, but  this time in a crab apple tree that was firmly anchored in the ground and not for sale.
Gray Catbird Nest, oil on canvas, 14 x 11 inches