Monday, February 20, 2012

Home-building doesn't come easy to animals either

As I've mentioned before, the area we're staying is a bit of a paradise for birds. They're everywhere. They're happy. They're noisy. (We don't mind it at all, but sometimes they get so loud that the other day, while on a Skype meeting, my client asked: Are those birds in the room?)

Yet, it's not easy being a bird, not even in this sanctuary. In the past months we've seen three nests being built, and the rate of success is not as great as the bird population around would have you think.

The first nest was precariously perched on a gorgeous bougainvillea by the veranda. The nest was quickly and unskillfully finished and two eggs were laid. Obviously an inexperienced couple of first-timers, the bird-parents selected the location based on aesthetics and the privileged view over the garden. Big mistake: they should have prioritized the soundness of the structure and potential dangers.

When the first storm came around, something akin to the Iguazu Falls came down the roof hitting the nest with full force. The next day we saw half the nest destroyed and discovered tiny, broken eggshells under the bougainvillea. Tough learning experience for the young bird-couple.

Come the second nest. Not the best location either: under a metal roof (hot), on a beam (easy access to predators) and a mop (colorful but very unstable), on our path out the house (mom stressed out every time we passed by). At least the rain wasn't an issue. Eggs were laid, eggs hatched, three baby birds chirped and chirped, mom flew back and forth all the time to feed them.

Then, one morning we wake up to a naked dead bird in front of our door - some ten meters from the nest. Creepy. Discarding the possibility of some voodoo, we assumed predator X had gone grocery shopping and then had a change of heart. Sad.

Mom-bird must have been distressed, but two birds were still chirping and she kept on working. A couple of days later, though, we stopped seeing her. And yet, there was a constant chirping sound. We checked the nest and it was empty. Long story short, last baby-bird standing had somehow kind of flown away and crept inside the shed. It wasn't looking good when we found it. Unsuccessful attempts to take it back to the nest (escaped), feed it insects (we scared the heck out of it), baby-bird became weaker and died that afternoon. Mom-bird was never to be seen again. I know. Nature, bla, bla, bla. Still. So, so sad.

Not the prettiest but they made it!
Only a couple days later nest # 3 popped up. This time it was a great nook: a thick stone column made it impossible for predators to climb and it was as sturdy as it gets; insulated roof kept it protected from sun, heat, and rain.

Three hurrays to a smart mom.
Mom, a dusty-colored pigeon, knew what she was doing. Baby-birds grew up quickly and we're happy to report they have left the nest a couple of days ago.

Lessons learned

* Animals instincts are overrated: they are as clueless as we are.
* Whenever possible, observe and learn from the mistake of others.
* As in human housing, location is everything.


  1. Wow! Amazing…this is one of the best post I’d read. I hope to read more of your incoming post. Well done.

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