Birds on the Porch

These are the latest additions to my porch, (there are two of them).

For a few years my porch was the domain of a couple of robins, (except that they camped out on top of the porch light which must have been really annoying as it is attached to a motion detector and lights up quite a bit). I wondered why there was a nest in the same spot two then three years in a row and started to think that I recognized the bird but thought that my thinking so was strange. However after looking around on the Internet, (if you can believe that), it seems, (again, no expert), like robins find a place with supplies and safety, and return to it year after year. I was telling this to my son and he was pretty amazed that they could do that after flying away for the winter without a GPS or anything to get them back. I agreed with the caveat that I read this on the Internet, (which for me and my kids is a joke/code meaning to not put too much faith in what was said).

But then a few years ago the robins did not return. Instead a mourning dove plopped itself on top of one of my hanging baskets. At the time the basket held some flowers, although, (as I am terrible with keeping plants alive), they were pretty much dead at the time.

I have something of a brown thumb. I can manage to kill things by forgetting to water, or (I think) being overanxious to keep them alive and overwatering. Or just being me. I’m not really sure. The only exception is some sort of ivy that a college professor brought into our lab one day and let us take what we wanted. I took a couple small ones with maybe three leaves and they grew and grew. When they got too big for their pots, I put them in larger ones. When they outgrew those I clipped some stems, put them in a glass of water for a few days until roots sprouted then planted those, (something my professor told us how to do). After a few times of doing this I had too many of these plants, so just let them be. Now I get why my professor brought these things in as I imagine his house was getting overrun with ivy.

Over 20 years later (!), these same plants and the clippings I planted are still alive and scattered around the house. When I forget to water them for a couple of weeks they start to shrivel. But after I top them off they bounce back. I do not add fertilizer or anything—just water every week, (or plan to), and they’re good. And if they’re not good, they come back alive easily. I wish all growing things were like that! Now I get why my professor might have brought the plants into school to distribute—his house was probably packed with ivy. (I’m not sure what it is, but I’m going with ivy of some sort.)

The only other things that I have had recent success with are tomato and cucumber plants in a new garden in the back yard. They seem to just grow out of control regardless of anything I do including (what I think is) excessive trimming. On the other hand I have those on an automated sprinkler. I like automation.

At any rate, the flowers that were in the hanging basket at the time of the mourning bird’s first arrival were sort of wilted making a springy bed, so it was no wonder she found it a comfortable spot. I kept watering the flowers around the bird and they managed to survive and bounce back a bit, although never back to anywhere their initial glory. Every time I came out to water I wondered if the bird would get upset or, after the babies were born, become protective and attack me. But every time she just stared at me and did not move.

The next year I took the baskets down for the winter instead of just cutting the plants and leaving the baskets to hang. Early that spring I saw a mourning dove hanging out on the porch and wondered if it was the same one, (or one of her kids). It/she ended up building a nest in the gutter of the house next to me—right in view of my office window. After the first batch of kids started getting an itch to do something more than hang out in the nest, (something I witnessed from my window), one sort of fell to the ground at first and thrashed around for a bit before working out how its wings worked and taking some brief hops. Mom appeared shortly after and puttered around it. The other did not seem to keen to follow, so stayed in the gutter spreading its wings and seeming to visualize flying. In the end it ended up taking an unequally ungraceful dive to the ground to join the other two. By the end of the day they were all gone presumably flying and learning from mom bird how to survive.

Then a few days later, mom came back and plopped herself smack dab in the middle of one of the new flower pots I had recently reinstated on the front porch. This time the plant was new enough to be big, bushy and healthy, but she didn’t care. Over the course of the spring and summer we went through the same dance of me watering and her staring. But this time I managed to keep the plants alive and vibrant for a couple of months so it was more like her hiding in some dense jungle staring at me while I pretended not to see her.

She had two more litters during that time.

Finally my brown thumb reared up and the plants started to fade. She had another round of babies after that, but this time when she took the week to teach them about life she did not return.

This time I left the planters up for the winter after cutting away the foliage.

A couple of weeks ago the bird returned. Now, I can’t tell if it’s the same bird, one of her offspring, or just some random coincidence. But when I tap on the window she sort of gives me a look as if she’s keeping watch, but not that concerned about me. It’s like she remembers who I am.

A couple of days ago the babies hatched. I could tell because she was bobbing her head at something under her. Today she finally left the nest, (I did sneak a peek yesterday with her still there, but did not want to cause too much of a ruckus so did not get too close), and snapped this photo.

This weekend, (as it seems like spring may be finally here—last week it was still snowing), I plan to get flowers for the porch and vegetables for the garden. Except this time I’m only going to get two hanging plants for the porch. The middle basket is now the domain of the bird to do with what she wants. At least until she doesn’t come back one spring…

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