In late April, while I was testing out our hammock, I looked up and discovered a nearly hidden bushtit nest hanging up in our fir tree. The birds carefully tucked the nest between two hanging branches right above our covered pergola. Only the evening breeze made the nest visible from the hammock.
Bushtits are a tiny gray birds that fly through my gardens in large groups of 10 to 20 birds. I've always found them charming company in the garden. During mating season, the birds pair off and build an intricate nest made out of spider webs, moss, grass, lichen, leaves and twigs. Up to seven eggs are laid inside and are incubated for approximately 12 days.
Both of the parents flit around the yard gathering insects like aphids and leafhoppers to feed their nestlings. The nest vibrated as the nestlings sang out when their parent arrived with food. The young leave the nest 14 days after hatching. And I had empty nest syndrome after the first batch of nestlings left.
But, The Backyard Bird Shop warned me that the bushtits would re-use the nest. And they did! I counted three batches of nestlings this spring and early summer. I never did manage to capture the bushtits flying into their nest, only some tail feather shots.
On Tuesday night, Barnaby started prancing around the yard with something in his mouth. It looked like a wool sock. But, then I realized that he had the bushtit nest. The evening breeze had knocked it out of the tree. I retrieved it from Barnaby and carefully felt the nest and was relieved to find it empty.
It's just shy of a foot long. And look at the intricate design.
Isn't it gorgeous? It's in pretty good shape except for some dog slobber.
I hung the nest up to take this shot. I'm debating about tying it up into a nearby tree to see if a pair of bushtits want to make some repairs and use it. Thoughts?
So, what birds have been nesting in your garden this year? I'd love to hear about them!