March is here and the sun is finally shining. It’s still cooler but the weather is kinder than it has been the past few months. When I was outside this past weekend I was reminded that Spring was not far away when a flock of Black Birds landed in the large Maple Tree in our yard. This got me thinking it was time to start the reno’s.
The human plans for reno’s were drawn up in January with decking plans, adding fireplaces and the community garden. But now it’s time to get ready for the return of the feathered friends, which means getting their Summer homes ready too.
I’m still on kidney stone recovery, so driving to a cottage that has no running water in the bathroom was not an option for me. Husband and Nelson, someone we will be introducing you to in the Spring ( yes another Warrior) did me the favor of bringing the birdhouses home when they went up to check on Our Lady and take up the new frig up to the Warriors Cottage.
Getting the birdhouses ready for Spring is a process that takes a few days. In the Fall when we take them down, we empty the nest out and give them a good shake out before they get stored for the Winter. But come the early Spring they need a good cleaning and a thural inspection.
This part may not be for the spider haters, but has to be done. The Vaseline in the Spring helps keep the spiders out during the time they are hung in the tree, but over Winter, spiders are looking for somewhere dark and not disturbed to lay the early hatching and also to hibernate themselves. The Vaseline put on the roof top will have pretty much disappeared and there is nothing stopping them from moving in.
For this reason, I highly recommend when doing the cleaning to do it over a sink with hot water and wearing rubber or disposable gloves. If you live in an area that has poisonous spiders, disposable gloves do not protect you like a good thick pair of rubber gloves from bites. Here in the North we have very few poisonous siders in our area, so I feel comfortable with disposable gloves. That doesn’t mean I feel happy when I shake out a big nasty spider, but that’s where the hot water and the sink drain come in handy.
Q-tips do great for removing’s nest and eggs from the spiders, but remember to not put those in your garbage can in the house or they will warm up and hatch in the can. I also recommend the gloves as birds also carry lice and other critters that you do not want to touch and then there is the bird droppings that should not be handled with bare hands.
Once the critters and debris are removed from the houses, I soaked them in hot water with some Dawn Dish Soap and then given a good scrubbing. You can add a cap of bleach to your water if you choose. I prefer not to add bleach to where babies will be born. Then the houses need at least a good day before they are completely dry before you can begin the next process.
Once they are dry they need to be assessed for repairs and paint touch ups. You’ll be surprised how much repair work goes into the birdhouses. It not so much the feathered friends that do the damage, they are actually pretty good tenants. It’s the wind, sun and rain that are harsh on the little homes.
When assessing the houses, the roofs and floors need to be checked. The little nails and glue tend to weaken. This year I had one of the homes bottoms and front come right off when I was cleaning it, and I found one of the roofs to be loose. The floor falling out could cause Mama Bird her babies for the year and also if the nest gets soaked the babies or eggs would not stay warm and could cause them to die.
Some of the homes will need the paint touched ups. And if the paint has faded, it means the house probably needs another coat of spray shellac to make it water resistant.
We had a tragedy this past year. One of the houses was too deep and the bird got caught inside because it was unable to climb to the exit hole. This year we will be adding false bottoms to the deeper boxes so this doesn’t happen again. This was a lesson learned.
The birds that we mostly house and I have truly fallen in love with are the Purple Martins. They are a smaller bird that migrate from Brazil each Spring to nest and hatch their young. Because they are smaller birds from the Sparrow family, those deep bottoms are too deep for them.
A Male Purple Martin
We have some new additions to our collection this year. I have made a new birdhouse to add to the Birdhouse Village Condo’s in the Tree of Life and have one more in the making. At this rate we might have to start extending our Birdhouse Village to the neighboring tree.
We were also given a beautiful Hummingbird Feeder for Christmas. I’m hoping once I hang this feeder that I will be able to get a picture of the Green Hummingbird who visits the front deck each day. The front garden planted last Summer also has plants that produce food for the Hummingbirds, so we are hoping to see more of them this year.
A Green Hummingbird but not ours.
And off course we can’t play favorites when it comes to feeders. We have also received the gift of two other feeders that will be going on the front of the enclosed porch once it is completed.
I smile as I write this, because yes, the Love Shack has given us yet again another hobby and another addition in our lives. Who knew birdhouses and birds would become a passion, and yet they have. Only those who have had the pleasure of watching a pair of birds build a nest and then wait to watch for the day that the babies come out to fly for the first time will understand this insanity.
Those same people will also understand there also nothing like the feeling of trust when the birds will come close to you and not startle away because you have been part of their environment and have proven yourself to them. And then there’s the humor of knowing that not only are you watching them, but they are watching you.
This is the relationship we have built with the Purple Martin who migrate each year back to the cottage. We are looking forward to sharing this with Nelson in April when he helps put the birdhouses back up in the Tree of Life. We also look forward to showing him how the birds come to the tree and sit on the branch’s waiting for Husband to hang the houses which they quickly choose as their own. Many coming back to the same house they had the year before.
For us the hanging of the houses has become the officially start of Cottage Season. It’s really the start of when we all start to come back to our other home. First the Birds, then the neighbors and then of course, the Warriors.