Wednesday, June 8, 2011


There’s a housing crisis in my neighborhood – more specifically in my backyard. It all began when I bought a homemade, solidly built birdhouse at Karl Oskar Days in Lindstrom, MN. Besides the sturdy wood construction, what attracted me was that the birdhouse was mounted on a pitchfork, making it super easy to set up.  Cleaning it was also a cinch, just pull the nail out from the front of the house and the bottom swings down for easy cleaning. A very clever idea.

I haven’t had much luck with birdhouses in the past. I have nine in the backyard. Only one of them has ever been occupied - if you don't count the wasps that moved into the birdhouse that looks like a castle. It took a pair of wrens two years to discover the pale yellow birdhouse hidden in a brush of jack pye weeds, and they hired a downy woodpecker to elongate the small entryway before they moved in. So, my hopes were not high that the new home would be lived in anytime soon.

Being the attentive landlord I am, I noticed a twig sticking out of the birdhouse’s opening while I was rushing out to my car one morning. I made a note to investigate and promptly forgot. When I finally remembered, there was no longer any sign of occupancy. I peeked in the hole, but it only opened up to a small dark cavern. I could see nothing. So, I decided to see how easily the little trap door on the bottom worked. It did, and nothing fell out. Not satisfied, I stuck my finger up into the house and sunk it into a mass of gathered grass and sticks. At, which point, a little head popped out of the bird’s door, blinked at me, squawked and pulled back in. It happened so fast, I had no time to determine what species of bird had taken offense at my sticking my fingers into its home. It turned out to be a black-capped chickadee.

I was afraid my faux paux would drive the little birds away, but I spent the weekend watching them flitter among the branches of an overhanging tree and darting into their new home when they thought I wasn’t looking. For a bird that can be tamed to eat out of a person’s hand, they are very skittish.

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