10The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
We have a small collection of nests and I really hope this will be the extent of it. I have told the fledglings, “No more.” Right now we keep this in the kitchen. The eggs in the top nest are plastic. Notice the softer material in the nests?
Who did these nests belong to?
Noon: Found on the ground after a storm. This is unknown. I thought a Grackle, but based on the nest size, I’m not sure. Maybe a Mourning Dove, but I’ve heard they make a very messy nest. I don’t know about that. Have you see the House Sparrow nest? It could also be the Brown Thrasher, or…
3 o’clock: Collected by child after nesting season was over. American Robin. They use a lot of mud in their nest building. The female builds, while the male stands guard. I used to think he was shirking his duty, but to protect his mate, he needs to stay alert to all that’s going on around him. I have learned Robins may come back in following years to use the same net. This is one reason I told the boys why we don’t want any more nests. These nests are amazingly sturdy.
6 o’clock: Abandoned during nesting season. Chipping Sparrow. A tiny nest for a tiny bird. Last year they thrived in our yard, so we were able to witness some of the feeding and other activities. They will nest more exposed than many birds, so we could sometimes see mom and dad sitting and later the fledglings before they left.
9 o’clock: A sad story. Papa thought most nesting was done in the ditches, so he mowed. When he couldn’t go further because of a “weed tree”, he backed up and discovered the exposed nest. The next day, the eggs were on the ground, broken. This is a Dickcissel nest. They do not nest on the ground, but about two feet above ground in small trees or shrubs. The tall grasses would hide them.
Iowa has one brood parasite and that is the Brown-headed Cowbird. I still have been trying to find a reason to think positively of them. They do eat bugs, but it is only 20% of their diet. Like many birds, the freshly hatched Cowbirds are altricial; this means they are naked, blind and helpless. They usually develop faster than the host bird’s chicks, so gets most of the food brought from the parents. The Cowbirds often times grow bigger than the foster parent.
Our state bird the American Goldfinch is a late nester, waiting for the thistle to begin going to seed and they use the fluff as nesting material. This timing alone will prevent much of the risk of Cowbird eggs being laid in their nests, but not all. Any Cowbird hatched in one of these nests will not survive. The Goldfinch feeds its young thistle seeds and the new Cowbird requires the protein of bugs.
I know God made a perfect balance in nature, but if I ever would happen across a nest with Cowbird eggs in it, I’d be pretty tempted to do something about it. I haven’t yet, and that leads to one more thought.
I have talked about human activities stressing the birds. Even just birding can cause stress. In Pete Dunne’s Art of Bird Finding, he talks about birds along bike trials and other areas. Those birds are used to the goings of humans, BUT will go on alert when someone slows down or stops. That’s not normal.
Nesting time especially is one where we need to be cautious. Some birds have become accustomed to human activity and will nest right by doors, sidewalks, etc. Purple Martins and Eastern Bluebirds have accepted a lot of human care by those who maintain the houses. Even so, don’t get too close for a peek or a good camera shot. Some birds will flee and after too many frights may just abandon the nest. I’ve heard the parents will even do this when off the nest looking for food. If they suspect a risk, they will not come back.
Birds really do have a rough time of it with the weather and predators, please do not place additional strain on the birds when they are bringing up the next generation.
One more story.
Last year, a Robin’s nest was built right by the garden. We’d try not to bother them, but couldn’t help but get too close. Thankfully, they tolerated us. Now and again, we would see Papa Robin with a worm, perched on the electric wire waiting for us to leave. In those cases, we worked quickly so he could feed his babies.
I hope you didn’t feel this was too lengthy and were able to wade through it. With these warmer temps, I’ve been thinking about spring activities. I am fascinated again by all the things God did for the birds. Besides giving Him pleasure, Creation is for our enjoyment. I wonder what He thinks and feels when man discovers yet another aspect of what He has made.
There are other things about nesting I want to share, but I will do this in a future post.