Battling with weather & robins

By Marion Tucker-Honeycutt | Jun 05, 2019
Photo by: Marion Tucker-Honeycutt

Put your hand up if you agree that this has been a miserable month, weather-wise.

I'm slow enough these days about getting things done. But getting my yard, flower garden and bird feeders ready; running for plants, mulch, topsoil, and all the rest, has been a rat race that I am clearly losing. I mean, the dandelions have already gone to flower and I have only had one mess of greens. The daffodils are about done blooming for this year and I don't even have my flower garden weeded.

The rain and mud have cut way down on workable time outside but everything, especially the grass and weeds, is growing up double time.

I have bee-balm and hollyhocks waiting to get their feet into the ground, pansies are patiently waiting to be set in the old wheelbarrow flower garden, and I haven't even been about to find the trailing lobelia and other flowers that I also use with the pansies.

I have a hanging basket of small, yellow trailing flowers that I'm going to put in my black metal birdbath. The birds don't use the metal birdbath because the sun makes it too hot for their toes. So I'm going to try putting potting soil in it, putting the flowers in around the edge and then a glass birdbath in the middle.

So I looked for a "real" glass birdbath dish. Have you seen the prices? Then a couple of weeks ago, while cleaning out a kitchen cabinet, I counted more pie plates than I need these days, now that the kids and grandkids have mastered pie making. One of these pie plates was one I've had over nearly half a century. It's large, tempered glass, French-made, with a wide rim. Hmm — perfect for little bird feet. So that's a project on deck for tomorrow. At this point, I don't care if it's raining. It's going to get done.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a running contest with a poppa robin on my porch. (Usually, the males come early and make the nest for their Mrs. ahead of time.) He decided that underneath my porch roof would be a perfect place but he started building it on top of my double bulb motion lights. Not good. I put up a shelf on the other side of the door and put the start he had of his nest there. No dice. While I was gone the next day, he came back and worked frantically to get his house built. Now what?

Next morning. I went to a shop that sells a lot of unfinished furniture and such, hoping they might have a birdhouse I could reconfigure. They did. By that time, he had finished his nest, a marvel of engineering. I took the roof and front off the birdhouse, screwed it onto the outside of a porch post just a foot from the nest, still underneath the porch roof, and carefully moved the nest. Then I waited.

A few hours later — success. And a few days later, three beautiful "robins-egg-blue" eggs.

Only problem is, every time I open the door to go out or let the dog out, it frightens them off the nest. They fly off to the trees over the driveway and sputter at me — and poop on my car! Some appreciation. Now I have to park my car way down the driveway.

I worry about the eggs being left uncovered too long in this miserable cold, wet month. I don't know if robins use birdbaths with other birds. I've never seen it. The nearest water source for them is off in the woods. So I sent for a couple small, glass, feeding dishes that hang one from the other. I put water in the top one, blackberries in the bottom one. (I first gave them a cherry, a raspberry and a blackberry. They gobbled up the blackberry but turned their noses up at the others.)

So now I wait. I expect little chirps any day now. The pending prospect of a nest full of birds was another reason I wanted the nest moved. On the lights, all the little birdy poops would land on my porch right where I step out. Now, they still have the roof for cover, but with the nest located on the outside of the porch pole, that will all land on the ground.

One battle won. Now if I can beat the weather to get everything else done before it's too late.

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, is a Maine native and graduate of Belfast schools. She now lives in Morrill.

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