Bird Nests and Pellets

Back in March, we started watching birds build their nests in our front landscaping. We loved watching a cardinal family building their little home in one of our Arborvitae trees. There were a total of three nests between two Arborvitae trees, one in a maple next to the house, and two more on gutter elbows on the 2nd and 3rd floors of our house. So we found six nests. The one that is on the highest point on the back of our house is a Junco nest.

Unfortunately, we had to do some major work near both Arborvitae trees right around Mother’s Day, and all three bird families abandoned their nests. We watched for them and would periodically peak into the trees to see if we could see any activity. None.

We hated to disturb them, but we had a flooding issue going on that required our immediate attention. I was worried that they had abandoned eggs or babies in the nests, but we never heard any littles crying out. We left them alone, just not sure if they would ever return and try to use the nest again.

After more than two months of waiting for their return and seeing no activity, we decided to reach for the nests. We were so thankful to see that there were no abandoned babies or eggs or even eggshells in any of the nests.

So now we have a decent collection of bird nests we can study in our homeschool.

The little one pictured in my hand fell out of the maple tree on its own. If I had to guess, the three small nests belonged to finches. We have a lot of finches in the yard. The largest one that my hand is next to in the second picture was the one the cardinals were building. You can tell that it was incomplete. It is fragile and pulling apart, whereas the others are all pretty tight and sturdy.

I find it interesting that the little one pictured in my hand used synthetic materials we had used in building the dog house. When we built the dog house, we lined the bottom with indoor/outdoor carpeting, just so the mutt wouldn’t get splinters when he laid in the house, also to add one more layer of warmth for when the weather cools down again. We had a piece of the carpeting leftover and we cut it to make a flap for his door opening. Anyways, the little threads would unravel and pull out. Eventually the door flap gave out and we tossed it. There are little carpet threads in the nest.

Many years ago, I had a long haired dog that would need to have his hair brushed weekly. I would brush him and leave the hair in the yard. One day I found a nest, smaller than the one pictured in my hand, and it was made entirely of dog hair. It’s been almost 15 years since that dog died, but I still have that little nest as a sweet reminder of that dog.

Eventually I hope to get the little Junco nest down at the back of our house, but they are still using it. There are several robin nests in a pear tree, but they are always active around them. We won’t intentionally disturb any nests that are occupied.

In other bird news, my youngest son was fascinated by a cough pellet (also called a casting) he found in our driveway. If you don’t know what a cough pellet is, it’s basically a mass of indigestible vomit from a bird of prey. So typically it’s full of small bones, feathers, teeth, claws, exoskeletons, pebbles, grasses, etc. This one wasn’t all that fascinating, as it was just full of long strands of grass.


The most interesting thing was that a couple of bugs had waddled out when we started to pull the pellet apart. I’m fairly certain those critters made their way into the pellet after it was upchucked and laying on the ground.

He’s hopeful that he will find another one and he can dissect it and rebuild the skeleton of whatever the bird ate and try to guess the diet and possibly even the type of bird. We know we have owls and hawks. This was most likely from the hawk, as it is right below the path where we typically see the hawk when she’s in the yard.

Well, that’s all for now folks. I hope to share a medicinal DIY and a recipe this week. We may hit up a farm in the next week or so and I hope to post about that as well.

Happy bird puke hunting!


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Yvonne Norton says:

    LOVE your nature world and boys in it..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. triciasengul says:

      πŸ™‚ Thanks Yvonne, it is a pretty awesome wonder around here!


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