|Studley April 2019|
Marge and Studley Windowson are back again and I am so relieved.
It was no sure thing my chickadees would be back in the nesting business. At least not in the box Dave set up for them outside my window. Last year and the year before they made a go of it but didn’t produce any working chickadees. And that’s a heap of trouble to go through for nothing.
Last year she had a good start on the nest inside the box and then disappeared when the wasps showed up. Without much hope of success, I took down the box and removed the wasp nest that was hanging down like a chandelier from the ceiling. It was off-putting to me, and I’m certain Marge felt the same way, although she and Studley are made of stouter stuff than I am. A wasp or two came by after I absconded with their sculpture and decided the neighborhood was a little too iffy for them, and they moved on. Amazingly, Marge came back to check on things, found the chandelier gone, and resumed work on the nest. But some time before the eggs hatched, they abandoned it. I don’t know why.
|Studley April 2018|
And yes, it is truly Marge and Studley. I will hereby admit I called them Marge and Studley for years without being utterly certain it was the same pair. Chickadees don’t veer off the template much. You see one chickadee, you can kind of write the book on all the others. But last year Studley showed up with a bum foot. It was pink and swollen, and over the course of a couple months it looked like pieces of it fell off. The only thing I can think of is he narrowly escaped a cat. And I think I know which cat.
This year his foot is nice and gray like it’s supposed to be, but the toes aren’t the right length and two of them are missing claws. When he lands on the nest box hole with his right foot, his left foot sort of slides down the side, for a lack of grabbiness. But he perches just fine, and that’s mostly what he’s doing now. He’s keeping watch on a stubby branch while Marge works on putting the mattress together. And he’s taking it seriously. His head turns every which direction and when he spots an intruder he gives it what-for. Mostly he scolds, but if there’s a smaller bird, he’ll chase it off. That means the Lesser Goldfinches are on the run for sure, and so are the bushtits. The bushtits don’t really act scared, to be honest. He might aim at one and dislodge it and then they all fly off in a bunch, but they’re all “Oh, are we going this way now? Fun! Whee whee whee!” Still, it has to puff out Studley a bit to rout fifteen birds at once.
Scrub jays, whole other thing. If you could scare off a scrub jay by going dee dee dee at it, there’d be a lot of terrorized jays around here, but you can’t. I don’t frankly know what would scare a scrub jay. I used to like them before one made off with my nuthatch baby on its maiden flight, and now I’m a little peeved. I thought I’d help out Studley when a jay landed outside the window and I opened up the window and went all boogah boogah on its ass, and all it did was size up my eyeballs for spearing.
I worry about Marge and Studley though. I’m going to help out as much as I can this year. I’m going to buy some mealworms, which I’ve never done, and I’m going to put them on my windowsill for them. I’ll try to rig up a parasol because the cascara tree has lost most of its leaves and I don’t want the eggs to cook. I’m going to be very stern with the scrub jays. I’m going to aim a fire hose at the neighbor’s cat at every opportunity. The neighbor said that was okay with her, not that I asked first. Sadly, it’s considered a social blunder to fire-hose your neighbor.
Studley and Marge and the rest of us, we’re all in the same boat. I despair of living with a ringside seat to the next great extinction event. I despair for the beautiful babies my friends and family are still cooking up, and I know they’re due for troubles our ancestors could never have foreseen. I can scream and shout and fight with people on the internet and write post cards to my congressmen and most of the time–maybe all of the time–it’s not much better than standing on my branch and going dee dee dee. But if Studley is still willing to fight the good fight with his bum foot, I can do it too.
I'm so glad they're back! Please keep us apprised on their nesting activities. Yes… I even birdwatch by proxy….
I almost have to, if I'm going to see anything cool.
A birder friend of mine once worried that we were creating "welfare" birds by feeding them. I told her that we were making up for all the crummy things we do that affect them: loss of territory, poisoning the soil, dumping fertilizers and weed killers, etc., on our lawns and more. So good for you for taking such good care of your little chickadee family!
I think the real way to look at bird-feeding is this: the main reason we do it is for our own entertainment. We want to see them up close. And that is a perfectly good reason. They'd do fine without it. But we have to be careful to keep the feeders clean and notice if a sick bird is visiting so that we don't inadvertently harm them, and we have to be willing to take the feeders down if there's a cat predator taking advantage. Stuff like that.
Goodness me, this took a deep and philosophical turn at the end, didn't it?
Always on my mind, I'm afraid.
Yay for Studley! And I agree soundly with your last sentence. We canNOT do nothing. What a great lesson from a tiny fluffball (plus interpreter Murr).
Studley rocks hard. I'm such a fan.
Hooray. For Studley and Marge. And for those of us who care.
Hooray for you!
I love your planned interventions, except the parasol. Back when I was gardening in a nesting Mockingbird’s territory, I tried carrying a parasol to ward off the dive-bombing raids. It worked, but I couldn’t manage to grow vegetables one-handed. Marge
and Studley make me ashamed of my recent funk over the state
of the world. I bet they didn’t spend a second of bird-time feeling sorry for themselves over the cat or the wasps. Keep Calm And Dee-Dee-Dee, I say.
WORDS TO LIVE BY!!!!
Murr, good idea on the parasol. A friend here in the Santa Cruz area keeps parasols over all her bird feeders throughout the rainy season and the birds seem to mind not one whit.
My friend Katy sent me a nice link for shade options. My parasol, should I choose to deploy one, might be a slice of Styrofoam perched just above the roof, with push-pins enforcing the gap. That sounds easy.
Thanks, Murr, for continuing to support and encourage us to care for all life on Earth.
Big job, huh?
I'm so pleased Marge and Studley are back! I hope they get their family going this time. Scrubjays beware, Murr is on the warpath!
Unfortunately, they scare me. Don't tell.