On the second weekend of this month, we were able to head to the cottage to officially open up. It was a happy day for us and of course, Romeo and Juliette were excited.
Mother Nature was not making any promises about giving us an early Spring this year. And true to her prediction of sending us cooler weather this April, she sent us some rain and cooler weather. Unlike last year when we were barbecuing on the deck, this year we were in need of rain boots, heavy jackets, gloves, and hats.
There was a bonus side to the cooler weather, if you could call cooler weather a bonus, it was that we would be ahead of the Purple Martins returning from Brazil. This would give us time to prune the large trees in front of the cottage and do some work on the birdhouses before we hung up the birdie condos.
When we headed up Friday evening we packed all the required equipment to prune the large trees. Along with that packing came the new birdhouses that were gifted to me and many hand-made by our Warrior Sherri. We also packed the equipment to make changes and repairs to the older birdhouses.
Having the birdhouses condos for three years now, I had observed them and watched which birdhouses they choose to build their nest in and which ones were never used.
My observation was the Purple Martins seemed to prefer a shorter house with a bit of a wider opening to the entrance. When I say a bit wider I mean about a half-inch wider than what came with your standard purchase size. Also, where we hung the houses in the tree seemed to make a difference.
If the house was too high in the tree they didn’t build in the house. They preferred to be ten to twelve feet off the ground.
After heating the cottage up to a comfortable temperature and having a late dinner we settled in on Friday night for a good sleep with the plans of breakfast and then headed out to get the trees pruned and houses ready for hanging.
Saturday morning when we woke up I heard the wonderful sounds of chirping birds. I opened the curtains to see what I suspected would be the Robins and Black Birds who had returned a few weeks ago, instead, I got a surprise.
Not only was it not the Robins or the Blackbirds, but to my surprise, it was the Purple Martins. Not only were they back early, but they were sitting in pairs in the trees exactly where their birdhouses had hung last year.
I went out to the deck to see this more clearly because I could not believe what I was seeing and there they sat looking at me. The humor of this story is if you can mentally picture this, they were sitting on the branches where their houses were last year. They would look at each other and then look at me again. I am sure if birds could talk I would have been accused of being a house thief.
I showed this to Husband and he couldn’t believe it either. They had returned home and to where their homes had been.
Our breakfast was quickly forgotten. We got dressed in our Winter Water Gear and headed out to a cool wet morning. We knew we had to prune the trees before we could hang the houses or we would have some very unhappy birds if we tried it the other way around.
After both trees were pruned we next repaired and opened up some of the entrances to the birdhouses and began hanging them in the trees.
In no time we had happier birds who were no longer giving us dirty bird looks as they started to pick out their favorite houses. The ones who had sat on the branches reclaimed their same houses from last year. Those ones, we were sure to hang in the same places.
I wasn’t able to go up this past weekend as it was my weekend to work but Husband was. He happily reported to me that many of the fourteen houses we hung this year have been chosen by the birds and that there is much activity flying in and out of the houses as nests are busily being built.
Success for us attracting more birds has been achieved by hanging the houses lower in the trees and by making the openings that little bit larger.
The larger birdhouse was hung on the back shed. Husband forgot to observe that house so it will be a surprise for us on our next visit to see what type of bird has moved in, or if we will need to relocate it somewhere else to make it more appealing.
Being Birdy Landlords and building our Tree Condos has been a learning experience for us. One I’m sure will continue over the years. The best teachers we have are the birds themselves.
It sounds amazing but we have built a relationship with the community of birds who return each year to live with us at the cottage.
Momma Dove has built her nest for seven years now in one tree. She or her young who were born there comes back each year. The grass she took up into the V of the tree five years ago remains there and interestingly grows each year in only that spot. We didn’t trim it when we pruned the tree as it gives shelter for her nest.
The Martins are a community that stays together and always returns to the same area of birth to nest. We suspect that the last year’s babies have returned to our cottage as one-year-old adults with their first flights back with their parents and that maybe who has moved into the other houses.
Our Martins fly in and out over the deck with us watching them and many times them watching us. They are never frightened or feel the need to protect their nest from us. They share with us the sounds of their babies when they are born and we get to watch them taking their first early flights and training to fly back to Brazil in the late Summer.
They have taught us that the fancy birdhouses you can buy are not their choices. They look good on the store shelves but don’t last the weather, their opening to enter are too small and the space inside does not fit their needs.
They seem quite happy with the vaseline on the inside roof. When we clean them we don’t find any spider or wasps nests, only the discarded nest of the last season. And most importantly, the size and opening are right not traping anyone inside which happened if the house is too deep.
Fourteen houses seem like a good number of houses but the building will continue. We have also learned that the weather and the wear and tear of use actually break down the houses. This makes them have only a few years’ life spans so both the Warriors who have supplied or made many of the houses and I will keep on building.
We will also keep on learning from our feathered friends who sometimes as we have now learned can give out Dirty Bird Looks.