By Cindy Hale
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
We placed an artificial pine tree on our patio, just outside Wally’s paddock. Is it a second string Christmas tree? A prop for dog competitions? Some show jump shrubbery? Or a Bird Mom wonderland?
Many of you probably live in far more rural areas than me. Yet by southern California standards our small acreage is an untamed wilderness. I’ve encountered snakes, coyotes, roadrunners and cottontail bunnies in my yard. Either our house is situated on a crossroads of wildlife travel or our landscaping, based on native plants, attracts them.
Yet I never expected that a well-worn, fake Christmas tree would be perceived by a pair of birds as the perfect place to nest.
Our feathered visitors owe their shelter to some spring cleaning. Ron and I were going through stuff in our garage and came upon the shabby artificial Christmas tree he put in his classroom each year. Now that he’s retired, it’s been abandoned to a back corner of the garage. First we thought we’d save it for the holidays and set it outside our front door, lit up with lights. Next my sister claimed it for a December Jack Russell terrier meet. It’d work as a hiding place for whatever object the terriers have to hunt. Then one of my friends, a horse show manager, thought she might want it. She’s always renting shrubbery to set alongside jumps. Why not use a fake pine?
Bored with discussing its fate, Ron and I finally dragged the forlorn tree out of the garage and set it on our patio. We’d deal with it later. In the meantime, I came to like the touch of greenery—fake as it was—that complemented my walk each morning to see Wally. Within a few days, though, the tree found its ultimate purpose.
After Mrs. Bird left for a short break, I zoomed in where the nest is hidden. Strands of tinsel and ornaments once hung there; now a trio of small eggs rest in a cradle woven from Wally’s hay. Isn’t that the most beautiful decoration? The fake tree has come to life.
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