Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Persistance or habit?

Every year - well every year for the 3 years that we have lived here - a little bird, a wren, has built a nest in the wreath that Julia hangs on our front door. Julia has a selection of silk wreaths that vary with the season and her whim. Sometimes it is even a real wreath, made with some of natures bounty. Each year the wreath has been different, but each year that persistent little bird does not vary her routine. She builds her nest and lays between 3 and 5 eggs. We then have to stop using the front door for several weeks, entering and leaving our home via the garage and trying to intercept any visitors before they bang on the door. We don't always manage this and we have taken to checking the progress of the tiny feathered creatures daily. We do this by going out the garage door and over to the front door - afraid that if we open the front door the mother will fly into the house. The babies are remarkably quiet. I always thought they would chirp to attract the mother's attention and to ask her to give that tasty looking grub to ME. But the silence is uncanny, they never make the slightest noise, which I think is very wise, as 'There be Dragons here.' Well OK, cats. Which would result in their demise either way.

This year she laid 5 eggs of which 4 hatched. (We discovered the 5th unhatched egg after they had all left) So there were 4 babies, all looking very cute, and fluffy - well OK, feathery - then when they were all pretty much fully grown and really, really crowded in the tiny nest suddenly there were only three! We saw no sign of the fourth sibling, so don't know if she fell out or was pushed (A case for Detective Poirot - did she fall or was she pushed?) Anyway it could be that she made a tasty snack for a passing cat, raccoon or even a dragon? Or perhaps she was very precocious and left early, we hope so. The others were all gone when we looked yesterday, which was about 5 days after the Mysterious Disappearance of the Fourth Sibling.

Then it was clean up time. It is remarkable how much mess a few little birds can make on a door.

But all was not over. More persistence. This time in the form of wasps. For the third year running wasps started to build a nest on the front door, using some remarkably strong adhesive. They build it not just on the front door but in exactly the same place each time. But these guys are not so welcome. The first time the soft hearted Julia said "Leave them". So we did, but "They" got got obnoxious, buzzing us every time we went out or in. Opening the door produced a swarm of wasps some of who came into the house and had to be ushered out again - a hazardous duty. Visitors encountered them with varying degrees of alarm. They had to go. A can of wasp spray, and they were history.

But each year they still return, and I dispose of them quickly before they terrorize us and our guests again. How or why they keep coming back to that one spot year after year I do not know. Some must survive each time.

To return to this post's title - persistence or habit, what do you think? Or is it a routine, like the routines that we all have? I think I vote for instinct. All those other labels are human qualities, animals don't have them. Or do they . . . ?

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