Finally, Some Good News!
In case you haven't noticed, the world is a mess. I don't think I need to go into the details. It just seems to be in a tailspin from which it is becoming harder and harder to pull out.
So when something good happens in the world, albeit our small world, it's time to share the good news.
Every spring, dozens of Sparrow and Scarlet Finch couples along with the odd Crested Titmouse assemble on our decks and begin the annual ritual called making more Sparrows and Scarlet Finches and Titmouses (Titmice? Titsmouse?). Those who get their act together early, get possession of the wood birdhouses. The late bloomers have to build their nests under the metal roof of the portal. It's always such a hopeful beginning. But in spite of being prolific breeders, not that many new birds survive the predators.
The Scrub Jays seem to know when the eggs have been laid or the nests contain tiny hatchlings, and they move in for a quick meal. The bull snakes slither up the posts and dine on fresh eggs. And the Curved Bill Thrashers, with their bright orange eyes are never far behind. They have a beautiful if not sinister song when they show up for supper.
The small birds make quite a racket when their nests are being pillaged, but the concept of strength in numbers seems to have eluded their minuscule brains.
You may be wondering, where's the good news here? Good news for the predators maybe, but not such good news for the small birds.
Well for whatever reason, this year a Curved Bill Thrasher, a Mr. and Mrs. Thrasher actually, decided to set up housekeeping under the portal, alongside the small feathered residents. And the to everyone's surprise all has been peaceful. The presence of the Thrashers has acted as a deterrent to the Scrub Jays. The Thrashers like to perch on the rail and their warden like presence is enough to deter the other predatory birds.
Just the other day when we investigated an odd knocking on hollow wood-like bird call coming from one of the Thrashers, we discovered this brave bird was facing down a three foot bull snake (the snake did not have three feet, you know better than that), who showed up with a linen napkin around its skinny neck, licking its thin snake lips, looking for a savory omelette. It was something right out of Wild Kingdom. The Thrasher was dancing around the snake and pecking the snake's head as the confused snake coiled tighter and tighter. The snake struck out several times but each time the snake struck out, the Thrasher pulled back or jumped to a new position. Finally defeated, the demoralized snake slithered off and calm returned. If you can call the constant, insistent chirping of small birds calming. And the even better news is this summer there have been numerous successful fledges. The balance of predator to prey has tilted towards the prey for once.
So, maybe there may be hope after all. But we don't want to get over confident.