I should have known… If you leave fibery temptation out in the open, it’s likely to fly away. SIGH…. You do all that work…..dyeing up the fiber. Hang it out to dry and WHAT HAPPENS? Some little feathered thief makes off with a beak-full of your mohair! Last May, I glanced out the picture window to back porch laundry line, where I spied a bird earnestly pulling tufts off the mohair I’d hung there to dry! Squawking alarm, I dashed out to shoo the bird, and found a laundry line mohair mess. There was more mohair underfoot and wafting away in the breeze, skittering across the back lawn. I may have sulked a little. THEN TODAY: While out watering the garden, I find this fallen nest under a tree. The “awwww” factor has set in, and I sulk no more….
The nest is made with the stolen mohair, though I also find bits of rust or jade color merino (which I hadn’t even noticed missing! So some of you may have purchased slightly less than the standard 4 oz). The white turns out to be plenty wildflower seed fluff & some dryer lint. Weren’t those clever parent birds, to build a nest using the finest, softest fibers around our home? With spring well behind us, I’m sure those nesting babies have already left their luxurious cradle; off to a well-pampered start in life. Perhaps this formative experience lingers in their brain, so I should be sure to set out fiber ON PURPOSE early next spring, ahead of nest-building season. Then…..like swallows returning to Capistrano….our fiber filching feathered friends might return to raid my laundry line for nest building material. Gee, I can hardly wait!
Over on the front porch, the action continues with bird nests, feeders, water dish and squirrels. We are avid backyard birders….enjoying our Blackcap Chicadees, Towhees, Wrens, Finches, assorted Sparrows, and the elusive Oriole. My husband doubts Mr. Oriole’s existence, since I have yet to capture a full image. I swear he’s real, and even has a lighter, yellowy companion. I – just – need – a – full on – photo, to score confirmation points!
See the birdhouse we installed atop a porch post, under the roof & out of the weather? Three years ago, a pair of chickadees began housekeeping in earnest, bringing tufts of moss & decorating the interior. That is…until GORGO the GIANT ROBIN decided the birdhouse roof was a fine nesting spot and took over. Each year, robins have reclaimed the nest and raised more babies, inspiring the carved spinning wheel hooks below.
We also have a trio of squirrels: the ubiquitous brown squirrel, a svelte California Ground Squirrel, and more recent addition of this velvety Gray Squirrel, with it’s plumed tail. For all their reputed prowess at busting birdfeeders, none of the squirrels has successfully raided this metal version, although the Gray gave it good effort, before calling it quits and settling for a porch-post nap.
Initially, I hadn’t welcomed the squirrels, wanting to discourage them from frightening off the birds. After weeks of effort made it abundantly clear I’d never permanently deter them, I caved in. If you can’t beat ’em, feed ’em. The pie plate offering of squirrel food has satisfied the furry critters. Last, a plastic plant tray balanced on the rail with a line of pebbles serves both bird and beast. The squirrels haven’t knocked it down, just nimbly leap over it, causing nary a ripple. And guess what? Squirrels don’t lap water like a cat – they stretch their necks out to submerge their chin and gulp! It’s rather funny to see. Eventually I hope to get a photo.
Turns out, squirrel-watching has it’s own merits. Hmmmm… I wonder if they use Mohair to line their nests?
= = = = UPDATE 7-23-2013, Tues = = = = = = = = =
My mystery bird wasn’t an oriole. It’s a Black-headed Grosbeak, as identified with the help of Planet of Birds identification guide.
Yes, Squirrels DO like to line their nests with yummy fibers. I caught one out our back porch picking away at my newly washed BFL fleece. A bright blue, with overtones of greys. [not the color of the squirrel, the fleece color]. Sigh! The things we do for nature. I’m sure the squirrel nest was the envy of the neighborhood.
You’ve just piqued my curiosity and prompted research into squirrel nesting habits!
On another note – I didn’t know where to put this – any possibilities of seeing some fairy Llamas in your future? Afterall, they are the protectors of our little woolies. 😉
There may be some fairy sheep attending Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival, Sept 27~29 (and, it’s never too soon to plan for Black Sheep Gathering 2014.) Fairy Llamas? Funny! I’ve yet to make a Llama, although their perky banana ears and dreamy eyes and rotund tummies make it a tempting creative prospect. I did make a Knitting Alpaca and that was truly a challenge to achieve a furry coat….not at all as easy as needling on curly wool. Alpaca fiber is much straighter & slicker, requiring some inventive methods to create a coat…and perhaps a few new curse words in the process. I imagine Llama would be as challenging to work with (note that “challenge” translates to OMIGOLLY-that-was-tough!”). So no guarantees yet, but hope springs eternal. 🙂
HI Dana, enjoyed the mohair nesting story and the nest photo was awesome! Every Spring I set out bits and pieces of wool in my nesting ball for the birds and squirrels, and it empties a couple of times. This year at our Locavore Garden Tour for the Master Gardeners, I will be offering some fiber for back yard birders like yourself to promote those nice colorful soft birdie nests too. Thanks for posting, Susan in Maine
Hi Susan, glad you like the little nest photo. I thought it looked so sweet when I picked it up and held in my hand, there in the dappled shade of the tree. I could just see remnants of twiggy nest material up in the tree, and couldn’t help wondering if the mohair proved too slippery a layer to hold the nest together. Still, the nest looks used and I’m thinking happy thoughts of little birds successfully fledged. I had sulked initially over the pilfered mohair because – – it’s not as if I failed to offer OTHER fiber bits. This year I’ve taken raw fleece out to the back porch for extra skirting – shaking loose the 2nd cuts and tossing wooly bits off the porch as bird nest offerings. I’ve even fluffed locks and left them strategically around yard out of sprinkler zone and visible to birds on prowl for nesting material. I guess birds have higher standards if they preferred the pretty, clean & colorfully dyed mohair.
Yes, I thought your mystery bird might be a Grosbeak – larger more rounded beak than a Robin or an Oriole. Hence the name. They are beautiful birds and don’t usually come down to the feeders. This year we’ve had 2 pair come to our feeding stations. Wonderful to watch. Glad you found the ID. Have you tried iBird? It’s a very comprehensive app for your phone. Lots of birdwatchers use it. There’s also a NW version.