Life is full of surprises

I was so excited yesterday – I know, I’m sad! My Café au Lait dahlia has flowered – the bloom doesn’t look as impressive as the one on the packet but I’m still chuffed.

Earlier in the year I wrote about Mr & Mrs B-T nesting in our bird box. I never did see their babies fledge so I’ve worried ever since whether or not they did. I’ve reminded Grumbling Rose on a number of occasions that he needed to get his ladders out and have a look in the box, as we need to be good landlords and clean it out ready for next year’s tenants. This task kept slipping off his list, until today. A friend of Mr & Mrs B-T – a Nuthatch to be precise – tried to give us a gentle nudge. While I was doing my ablutions this morning I heard a lot of tapping going on outside. On looking out of the bathroom window I saw a Nuthatch tossing stuff out of the bird box. It reminded me of my Mum when she’d had enough of my untidy room. Anyway I went out onto the terrace to investigate and was met with a scattering of debris below the bird box. Grumbling Rose had no sooner returned home from whatever he’d been doing, than he was despatched up a ladder to open the box. My heart was in my mouth as I was convinced there would be a cluster of decomposing little bodies in there. I was wrong – another nice surprise – just an empty nest – a thing beautiful to behold – how many hours must that have taken to make? I was a little alarmed at first as my eyes homed in on a blood red patch, but on closer inspection this was just some red fabric fibres. The nest itself looked beautifully clean.

This set me thinking about how birds keep their nests clean. It seems many do, though not all (the slut birds). Blue Tits do keep their nests tidy. One way they’re helped to do this is that their babies produce what are called faecal sacs. Sounds revolting doesn’t it but actually it’s an amazing invention! I’d never heard of this, but the babies of many birds, including Blue Tits, poo into a membrane sac, which a parent (most likely the mother) then removes from the nest. This serves to keep the nest clean and sweet smelling to ward of predators and mites. Apparently some baby birds even give a signal that they’re about to poo. This set me thinking – there’s a definite flaw in human evolution here. Imagine how useful and eco friendly it would be if this applied to our babies and puppies!

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