Friday, March 30, 2012

Where Are The Snakes When You Need Them?

I warned this guy. Really I did.

I've had some problems with rodents trying to nest in the engine of my car…one of the downsides of living rural. A few weeks back I checked to see if there were any "friends" trying to take up residence and I noticed a few droppings on the battery. It's that time of year!

I tweeted about the problem and received a tweet from a company that makes natural, rodent control…safe for the environment and pets, my primary concerns. I didn't want to have to resort to rat poison since hawks or snakes or other predators (such as setter dogs) could find a poisoned rat and get poisoned themselves. Since I garden for wildlife, this is not something I approve of. So, I purchased some of the product and taped the packet inside the engine close to where I saw remnants of my not-so-good friends. I checked a couple of days…no sign of activity… could it actually be WORKING?????

Well, NO! Upon checking a few days later when I saw the setters noses in the air by the front of the car, I noticed some crumbly stuff along the top of the engine. Guess what? My not-so-good friend chomped a hole in the packet and some spilled out. So much for repellant! My not-so-good friend thought it was a banquet. I started parking my car outside of the carport, but that is rather inconvenient and when I shopped the other day I pulled in since I had a lot of packages to cart inside.

The other morning I took the kid next door up to the bus stop. These poor kids have to be there at the ungodly hour of 6:30 a.m. and since I am up, it really isn't a problem for me to ensure that she doesn't have to trudge in the dark to a desolate stop where she is the only kid waiting.

When I backed the car out I thought I heard a thump, but didn't think anything of it. Well, today I drove to the bus stop and when I returned I guess I parked the car in a slightly different spot. Later on when I was walking along the parking pad, I noticed something that looked like nesting material…bits of fur being evident. I kicked it slightly with my foot and was horrified (and secretly happy) that it was my not-so-good friend…apparently unceremoniously dumped from the engine and munched upon by who-knows-what. That must have been the thump! Sweet justice. I warned her, really I did.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bird Nest Relocation, Eggs and Surprises

I was thinking about what I was going to write about at Beautiful Wildlife Garden Blog this week when I decided on eggs. I have 5 bluebird eggs in the nest box close to hatching in a few days. And, I knew the mockingbirds had set up shop in my neighbor's oak tree that is about 5 feet from my side gate.

The mockingbirds had a little help from me in choosing this site since they were initially trying to build in one of my wax myrtles but were attacking the bluebirds. That shrub is somewhat close to the nest least according to the mockingbirds. My concern was that the bluebirds only nest in the nest box and the mockingbirds could pretty much choose any tree or shrub to build in. Mind you, last year I had a brood of healthy bluebirds that hatched on March 17th. This year they were barely able to start building by then...despite the fact that 2012 is considerably warmer. I attributed the delay to the mockingbirds being territorial.

Soooo, as the mockers would bring nesting materials to the shrub, I would remove it. They tried several times, with me taking away small bits of pine needles each time. After a while I decided to remove the branches that seemed so enticing. That's when they moved "out of the area" and started building a new nest in the oak about 120 feet away. There was a leftover nest from a successful brood last year and the new one was fashioned a few branches closer to the ground.

Back to my article idea! I carefully opened the bluebird nest box after I saw mom leave for a minute. I quickly snapped a shot of the eggs and closed the door just as quickly. I then headed over to the oak tree. Since I couldn't see inside the nest, I just held up my camera over the nest (I could reach up that far) and took a quick photo. I was pretty shocked when I pulled the camera down and looked at the screen. Instead of eggs, there was one gaping baby and a few others snoozing away. I thought about taking another shot to see if I could determine just how many nestlings there are in there, when suddenly, mom and dad arrived in B52 formation zeroing in on my head. Luckily I was wearing my garden hat which protected me as I quickly raced to the gate to give them room.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


I spotted a dark color bird entering and exiting a woodpecker's hole in the back pine snag. I'm always excited when it appears that birds are shopping for nesting locations. I noticed a bright yellow beak so I picked up my field glasses to take a closer look. Dang, dang, dang, it is a European Starling. Too high up the snag to suggest a move by stealing the nest. Maybe she won't build and is just looking. But, let's change that earlier "ALWAYS" to "GENERALLY".  Exotic birdie species GO HOME!

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