Remember when I put up several nestboxes last month, hoping to encourage some of our avian friends to set up housekeeping here? Well, so far nobody has moved into those tidy new homes, but I just found two titmice making a nest in an old nesting box that was here when we bought our house five years ago. It’s mounted on a dead tree beside the deck, right beside a security light, and we’ve never bothered to climb up there to clean it out, so who knows what could be in there.
But here’s how I discovered them: I went outside with my camera to try to get some pictures of the male titmouse who was chirping like crazy (and honestly, sort of annoying me). I got a couple not-really-great pictures of him, like this one.
Then I saw some movement in that old nestbox. I looked and saw a female with a mouthful of leaves inside the box. My pulse quickened and I swung the camera around to take a shot of her, but I wasn’t fast enough. As you can see in this blurry picture of the female (below), she immediately dive-bombed my head. Actually both of them dive-bombed me, and it happened so fast I can’t be sure who was first, the male or female. But even in this picture you can see that she still had a mouthful of leaves as she came out after me, and some of the leaves are falling from the box opening too.
How exciting! I’m inside now giving them time to get back to business, and I hope to sneak out and watch them later — from a bit further away — with binoculars. Unfortunately though, I don’t have much hope that they’ll be able to successfully raise any babies here; you can see the claw marks around the box opening, right? There are so many squirrels and raccoons in our yard that I’m sure one of them will get the eggs before they even get to hatch. Pete Dunne on Bird Watching says this:
Everyone engaging their lives with the lives of birds should understand that 90 percent of the birds born in any given year fail to see the next. Nest failure is the first major cut on the way to maintaining the population at a healthy level that does not outstrip resources. This mortality rate may not seem right or fair. But it is natural. (p. 39)
Maybe they’ll beat the odds though, right? I want to be optimistic, but I don’t want to be disappointed either. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!