Monday, June 8 2009
A couple years ago Eastern Phoebes attempted to raise a nestful of fledglings above the lights between our house's two garage doors. One of both of the parents died (I found one of them dead beneath the nest) and the babies were left orphans, precipitating a failed attempt on my part to keep them alive despite their nest being overrun with mites. This summer Phoebes built a brand new nest on these lights (I'd buried the old one, along with its mites and dead fledglings, in the garden) but again it appears to have been cursed. This time the curse took the form of a single Brownheaded Cowbird chick, which quickly grew to a size where its Phoebe surrogate mother no longer felt the need to incubate it. For the past few days I've often seen it standing like a bored chicken in its nest, looking at me as I walked past without much concern. Interestingly, the fledgling Cowbird makes few noises, and these tend to be a few generic peeps. Such behavior could provide a survival advantage for a brood parasite living in the nest of a bird with a fussy ear for the sounds their young should be making. A generally quiet brood parasite might well escape detection as an impostor.
Today I ripped out the broken remains of the bluestone-surfaced concrete paving atop one of the driveway drainage ditches, the shallowest one most subject to the stress of cars driving over it. The ditch is too shallow and the concrete too thin to survive normal wear and tear, and last year I replaced a ten foot section with thicker, steel-reinforced concrete. I continued that replacement this evening while mosquitos took advantage of my reluctance to swat them with hands covered with wet concrete. I replaced two sections, one measuring eight feet long and the other measuring only four, using four eighty pound bags of concrete, ten gauge rectangular steel mesh, and odd recycled pieces of rebar. As always, I finished the top surface with bits of bluestone. This was my first use of the massive eight cubic foot plastic wheelbarrow, and it proved an ideal mixing environment, though repeatedly pulling a hoe through 200 pounds of half-wet concrete is not a task for the weak or uncommitted.
For linking purposes this article's URL is:feedback
previous | next