Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Unusual Place for a Nest

And the award for "Most Creative Place to Nest" goes to...

This Carolina wren (and its mate). Now, I know Carolina wrens are not too picky about where they stash their babies. They're cavity-nesters, but they seem to use a very broad definition of "cavity". I have known them to nest, not only in tree holes and birdhouses, but air conditioning units, pockets of shirts left on clotheslines, shoes left outside, and now...

This cow skull my next door neighbor has stuck in the fork of a juniper tree. Now, I don't know why he has a cow skull stuck in a tree, but he does, and now this deceased bovine's brain case is home to a brood of Carolina wrens, with the foramen magnum apparently making an excellent doorway for the wren parents. I watched this wren and its mate flying back and forth delivering caterpillars and other insects to the skull for at least half an hour the other evening while grilling dinner on the back porch. Unfortunately, as many birders have noticed, birds have a great talent for going away right when you raise up a camera or binoculars, so I didn't manage to get an actual shot of the wren poking its head into the back of the skull.

In other bird news, this morning I saw a female Black-Chinned Hummingbird enjoying my Scarlet Runner Beans. At least those beans are benefiting somebody. I think it's too hot here for runner beans, since they've only put out one pod all year, despite growing huge and making lots of blossoms. There's a possibility they might start producing in the fall, once it cools down but before it freezes, but I'm starting to think they're not worth growing around here.

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