For the last forty-five years I have been blessed to live in houses that have a lot of birdlife in the yards. As soon as possible in the spring, my bedroom window stays open round the clock and the dawn chorus has been a regular start to my day. Where I am now, there are very few resident birds and no dawn chorus at all. There are crows, chickadees, the occasional band of bushtits, herons flying overhead, and of course, starlings.
Quite a few years ago my daughter bought me a cow skull ( or maybe a bull skull?) that had been a wall decoration at a restaurant that was closing. It was pretty worn down, had only one horn, and hung from a leather thong. I assume it was a Mexican restaurant, it had that bleached-in-the-sun look that looks good next to the serape. This spring when I cleaned out the pots on my little deck and planted the early pansies, I took the skull from under an old worn table (they actually looked quite good together) and hung it low on the wall by the railing.
Day before yesterday, as I walked by the sliding doors I saw a flicker of feather out of the corner of my eye and there was a chickadee perched on the hole that goes into the skull at the top. Nothing was showing but his little tail for a minute and then he flitted away. It was awfully cute.
Yesterday, as I sat at my computer, I looked out the door and there was the chickadee again. Now he was going all the way into the skull and coming out with a beakful of brown material. Upon investigation, I found there was some sort of spongy stuff filling much of the cavity in the skull. Aha, I thought, perfect nesting material. And soon enough there was a second chickadee, somewhat smaller than the first and quite a bit more cautious but also availing herself of this windfall. For most of the day, every time I looked, one or the other of them was coming or going.
There is a pine tree at the side of my deck and there always seems to be chickadees in it, so I am hoping there is a nest being built there. By the evening, when I checked the skull, they had removed most of the spongy stuff so I cleaned out my dryer lint trap and stuffed some of that into the skull. Sure enough, this morning found both of them coming and going with great bits of purplish fuzz in their beaks.
Now I just have to figure out how to get a photo before the nest is completed.