The Birds and the Bees

img_1450Here we are in North Hero, Vermont, getting to know our new environment. Or, more specifically, as you’ll see from these pictures, here we aren’t.  Not a soul to be seen on the deck.

We chose this place, in part, because of the quiet, the back-to-nature feeling, and especially because of the sunsets, such as this one. We love the deck and the two screened porches, one adjacent to the deck, in the west, and one off the kitchen, in the east.

Apparently, we are not alone in our enthusiasm.

We noticed, on our first tours of the house, the bird nests. “That’s great!” said I. “We love the birds.” I was a little concerned about the nest directly over the door to the deck, and the one over the main entrance door, but I figured it was off-season and the occupants, like many other seasonal residents, had flown south for the winter. They wouldn’t be back in the spring, or they’d find another place.

When we were up here in April, I scrubbed down the poop deck and the entrance alcove, and tried to dislodge the muddy nests (unsuccessfully). It was still early in the season, so no one was home at the time.

Now we’re here at the end of May, and the barn swallows — for that is what they are — apparently come back for the holiday weekends, too. There are families in both nests over the deck and the entrance hall, and probably others as well that we haven’t discovered yet. I’d watch from the west porch, but that seems to be attracting yellow jackets. We suspect a nearby nest, perhaps in the crawl space under the porch. So the birds and the bees (metaphorically, as I know these are wasps) have been teaching us a thing or two.

Here’s another view of the barn swallows, closer to home.

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Author: hwfielding

A retired newspaper editor telling my own stories now.

One thought on “The Birds and the Bees”

  1. We’ve since learned more about the birds and the bees.

    We asked an expert at the Vermont Audubon Center what to do about barn swallows — so named, I suspected, because of their enormous appetites that allow them to consume a barn’s worth of food and then defecate it out on your doorstep. After reminding us that’s it’s illegal to remove or damage a bird nest, he allowed that if a nest should fall down sometime after the swallows have left for the season, we could put something in its place to discourage them from returning the next year. Spikes would do it; some try wire mesh (unsuccessfully, based on the nests at our place). Others try shiny, dangly mobiles or wind chimes (which we would prefer). Expect a musical house next season.

    Meanwhile, the best one can hope for is to cover the target zone — in our case, the entrance and deck doors — with some kind of cardboard or removable/washable surface to collect and remove the excrement from the target zone. Meanwhile, we’ve renamed the rear garage as The Barn, because that’s apparently what the barn swallows take it to be, and the front overlook area that I so covet has become the Poop Deck.

    The bees — actually several nests of mud wasps, according the Orkin guy — are another matter. They were eliminated from our eves and soffit vents, but perhaps at the cost of nests of mud daubers, which are good guys. These smaller wasps are harmless to people, but capture spiders, lay their eggs in the carcasses and build their nests around them.

    Only later did we find from our lawn guy that the previous owners had been pestered by spiders. The hits just keep on coming.

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