Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Bird in the Hand

I just checked my favorite Phoebe nest and found that the last of the chicks has flown the coop (so to speak). This is my favorite Phoebe because she managed to raise 4 chicks all within reach of a a most bird-crazy leonberger's nose. She built her nest in the corner of Sophie's and Milos's dog shelter. This is the place that they get brushed - and all the undercoat just pushed outside (love living in the Maine woods). Most of the bird nests are golden red around our place! Now this building site may seem like a good choice for a bird -- protection from predators due to the dogs, lots of soft building materials, and shelter from the elements. But, there was one thing she didn't bargain for - Milos the fearless birddog. Not a dove, chick-a-dee, crow nor sparrow is safe within the range of Mighty-Milos. He spends most of his time (not counting his battle with the local red-squirrel family - another story) darting around, ferociously barking and working hard keeping all birds in the air at all times.

We noticed the mother bird checking out the area, but had no idea she would pick that spot. There was no problem while she built the nest and layed the eggs. Not many issues while she incubated them either -- then they hatched and started making "noises"! Bird noises inside Mighty-Milos's shelter was not acceptable. At first he couldn't figure out how to approach the nest of hair and twigs emitting these chirping sounds since he would always bump his head when he attempted to jump up. So, he resorted to sitting pretty in front of the nest and peeking inside. Finally, after a lot of practice he was able to stand up on his back legs and touch the outside with his nose. Ms. Phoebe would go crazy flitting around and squaking for him to leave her family alone. There was no way we could monitor him at all times and figured the end was near. Daily, I visited the shelter expecting the worst. Believe it or not - he NEVER knocked the nest down! And Momma Phoebe would always return to feeding after his visits.

The chicks feathered, flourished and flew away! (But she didn't lay anymore eggs there.) Somewhere out there is a line of phoebes with an affinity for leonberger breath. So, if you notice one riding around on your dogs head - they probably were "bred in Maine".

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