Writing: Ekornes Blog

Build it and They Will Come

“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.” ~ Lord Byron

It all started about 8 years ago when, on a whim, Michael decided to buy a bird feeder. At first, the birds came sporadically. Cardinals, Mockingbirds, the usual variety of finches. He said he watched them for almost a year before actually seeing a bluebird, but when he did he was hooked.

He said this wistfully, looking out into the field towards the bird houses.

Apparently this past spring, a mockingbird chased Michael’s resident blue birds away, and then a pair of barn swallows laid claim to the nesting box.

“It’s not a big deal really,” he said, lying. “They’ll come back next year”.

Michael, an executive in the music industry, spends long hours behind a desk in his home office. Like most people, his work is heavy with responsibility, stress-laden, so, as his interest in bluebirds grew, he decided to add a bird feeder and house to the area right outside his office window. He researched blue bird feeding and nesting habits on Audubon (audubon.org) and learned how to craft the most inviting home environment for a mating pair.

Apparently the Eastern Blue Bird has a taste for cashmere.

Michael explained how he tenderly added a few small bundles of cashmere to the nesting box on a bitterly cold February morning, and before long he had a young blue bird family right outside his office window.

“That was the first time I ever watched a family develop in nature. Bluebirds mate for life, and that first year I watched them work together to secure the nest and lay eggs. By late spring, I watched the fledgelings leave the nesting box . . . one by one. I was on a conference call, and I watched them peek through the hole and take their first flight.”

The same bluebird couple returned to the nesting box for the next four years. Each winter he made them a special, high-fat food made from flour, corn meal, peanut butter and an assortment of dried fruit, and during those cold months, he’d watch them at the feeder — plump, little blue orbs making a stark contrast against the glare of snow. Sometimes the male would land on the window ledge giving Michael a close look at their features and facial expressions. They’d peer at him through the window with that tough, scowling look that bluebirds tend to have, their russet colored chest puffed up in an attempt to seem menacing even to humans.

“I loved it when they looked in the window at me. It’s so strange. I never would’ve guessed that I’d get so attached to them. It got to the point where I’d wake up in the morning wondering just what they’d get up to that day.”

And as always, during long conference calls and the many hours spent brokering deals between clients, the pressure of major decisions and the days that just seemed generally endless — the blue birds remained as a small but sure source of peace. A tiny respite right outside the window. A return to calm.

“So you can see why I miss them. Don’t misunderstand – I love all the birds but — the bluebirds were a fixture for me here. They were almost like pets. I knew their personalities. I saw their lives unfold. There’s something really gratifying about that. Anyway, I guess now I can look forward to a new pair coming to the nest next year.”
But what of the barn swallows who had taken the nesting box and the mockingbird who had made it possible for them to do so? There is so much action happening right outside our windows! And whether we choose to foster one family of bluebirds or create a habitat that attracts a wide variety of wildlife, so much pleasure can be gleaned from engaging with nature. Michael spoke of a woman who made her yard a veritable butterfly garden simply by planting the right flowers and shrubs to attract them. And a young man who lives near him created a tiny hummingbird mecca in his urban garden. All it required were a few glass hummingbird feeders and a tiny bit of patience.

The satisfaction of attracting wildlife to your outside living areas is practically endless, and the possibilities of what to attract and where to attract it is boundless as well. Just take a look out the window. Build it — and they will come.