Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The 40 Year Squirrel's Nest

While removing the American Chestnut ceiling panelling from the old house, I was greeted with thousands of expended walnuts, walnut shells and other nesting stuff.

The nest was between the ceiling joists which are two feet apart, and stretched sixteen feet, from one side of the room to the other. Each time I removed a board from the ceiling, a grocery bag full of the nest came tumbling down. I must have removed a wheelbarrows worth––heaping full.

Sorry, you guys, for having disturbed your squirreled-away nest-egg.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Vultures or Buzzards?

For the last two years, and most likely for many years prior, vultures (buzzards) have nested in the attic of the old house I've mentioned in my previous post. Their nest is under the eaves, obviously under the hot tin roof on the south side. In the spring, while sitting on the eggs, the big black bird does not appreciate my interrupting the process. It hisses and pucks in disgust of my face's intrusion. After it hops out of the attic window the heavy body first descends to a lower branch. From there it flies upward, in several segment, to a more loft spot so it can finally catch an updraft and soar.

The color of the bird is dark brown, almost black, with a wingspan of five feet or more. On the upper side of its wings are two whitish stripes about eight inches long and two inches apart.
After the eggs hatch, the parent brings regurgitated food to the chicks. The chicks are a fuzzy, gray white when born, but during the next couple of months turn dark brown before they leave the loft.
Last year I witnessed the parent feeding the young, even after the nest, as they were perched in the limbs of an old maple overhanging the house. The stench of the brood still lingers a month after their liberation. I don't mind the smell, I'm glade I could accommodate their proliferation efforts.