Enjoy the cycle of life in your own backyardIf you listen closely you can hear the small chirps of newly hatched birds in the trees, or see the happy young of the wood ducks and Canada geese swimming along the waterways. These are the things that bring us a little closer to the world of nature that is all a part of our unique gardens.
By: John Zvirovski, The Jamestown Sun
If you listen closely you can hear the small chirps of newly hatched birds in the trees, or see the happy young of the wood ducks and Canada geese swimming along the waterways. These are the things that bring us a little closer to the world of nature that is all a part of our unique gardens. The sight and sound of new babies and young plants create an explosion of life in our midst to somehow create a positive energy like no other around us. Concrete validation that, by creating a beautiful space in our yards, we can also be the catalyst to creating new life.
Birds are a unique species that lay eggs and incubate them until the time they hatch. These eggs are deposited into a bed called a nest, which houses them through incubations and keeps them from falling to the ground from trees or rolling around on the ground. Depending on the species, sometimes these nests are lined with fine fibers or downy feathers and fluff to keep the fragile eggs protected and warm.
If you have ever spotted bird nests in trees, bushes or on the ground, you may have noticed that there are many different varieties that surround us. Some are very small, like that of the hummingbirds, some look like a ball of fine twine hanging like a sling from a tree created by the Baltimore orioles called a pendant nest and others are very, very large such as the ones created by the bald eagles. Each one has its own unique character for the specific species at hand.
The most common type of nest that we are all familiar with is called the cup nest. This is a circular nest with a deep central depression to house the eggs. They are typically made up of grass, twigs, string and fibers along with mud and sometimes saliva from the builder. Robins, blackbirds and sparrows are common species that create these sorts of nests.
Eagles and osprey create very large nests that are called aeries or platform nests. Typically these are atop large trees and can be seen from quite a distance. They are literally made out of branches and sticks, reaching up to 10 feet across! Many times these nests are used from year to year with new material added each round, causing the nest to grow in size and potentially damaging weight.
Many of us are familiar with the spherical nest created by the barn swallows. These nests are completely enclosed in a ball form with a small opening in the side or bottom of the nest for entry. Many times we will spot them clinging to the undersides of bridges and awnings or clinging to the side of a house or other structures. I have seen it happen more times than I can count, people hosing them off the sides of their homes to avoid a messy situation only to have the structure return each and every time. These round nests are created with small balls of mud and grass and are neatly and quickly adhered together to create a strong and durable home to raise their young.
A scrape nest is formed by birds such as the killdeer or plovers and are small, shallow depressions on the ground or in vegetation — just enough of a depression to keep the eggs from rolling out but are very camouflaged to prevent predators from detecting them. These nests are very hard to find, but are obvious to the birds around them trying to distract you through other means.
Although many of these types of nests are familiar to us, there are some we tend to forget about such as the burrow nests created in the ground by king fishers and burrow owls. There are also cavity nests that are created within live or dead wood by the nuthatches or woodpeckers. These cavities create great protection from both predators and the elements of the weather.
The next time you catch sight of a nest, or one in construction, take the time out to watch the process and see all the intricate detail that is involved in its completion. If it happens to be in your garden or neighborhood, continue to watch through the days that follow and watch the circle of life that will unfold before your eyes in the weeks to come. This is the perfect opportunity to teach a young child firsthand about the life process of birds.
Once the eggs have been laid and incubated, the young will emerge and quickly grow. Enjoy the routine while the parents nurture and feed them, while keeping the nest clean through various techniques of waste disposal. Eventually the little ones will learn to fly and begin lives of their own to repeat the cycle down the road.
Always remember to never hinder the process or touch the young, as they are still wild creatures that deserve our respect and attention. After all, when we create our gardens, many times we are creating an inviting environment in which they can create a home and safely raise a family. That is one of the best foundations we can create for them in their life cycle.
Enjoy the process from a safe distance and you will be able to learn a great deal from our fine-feathered friends. Have a safe Memorial Day weekend everyone!