New neighbors

So over on the other blog, Marginally Domesticated, I talk about the craft projects I work on in the (limited) spare time I have.  One of the things J & I do is paint a series of interesting-looking bird houses to hang out in the yard, for variety in the perennial gardens:

Battleship mid rangeThis was one of J’s creations last year. I painted this one:

Adobe birdhouseBecause we hang them on plant hangers, they are fairly unstable and thus generally unattractive as a housing situation for birds.  Also, they’re made of a pretty flimsy balsa wood, meaning they don’t hold up well.  You can see a little bit of mildew along the left edge in this photo.  I decided to slap another coat of paint on it and put it out for decoration again this summer, believing no bird in its right mind would want to live there.

Enter the sparrows.

A few weeks ago, we noticed a sparrow hopping up the ladder into the house, then hopping back out, down the ladder and flying away.  We peeked in, and discovered a mess of twigs stuffed down into the taller part of the adobe house.  Figuring this was just some confused bird, we amused ourselves by watching it hop up the ladder, go in, come out, hop down the ladder, and fly away.  Really, it was charming.

A few days later J went over and lightly touched the house, to see how “construction” was coming, when he heard, “PEEP peepeepeepeepeeepeepeepeep PEEP!” He came back in and said to me, “Congratulations, you’re a slum lord.  You slapped a coat of paint on the place, and now there are 5 birds living in there.”  We couldn’t see them, but we imagined they must have been stacked up in there like cord wood.  It’s a really tiny space in the back, with only one main entrance/exit – the side holes are more like windows.  It was more like an illegal sublet than a real home.

Over the weekend it appears that the young residents have fledged, and the nest is now empty.  There’s poop on the front porch, the inside is trashed, and the bottom is now falling off.  Plus they didn’t pay a lick of rent.  I should have demanded references.

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