Today is Saturday, August 19, 2017

POSTSCRIPTS Of Birds and Bottles!

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Okay, I threw Ray Pope a bottle and he threw it right back! So here goes. I am FAR from being any kind of an expert on birds but I can tell you what I have observed first hand. I wrote earlier about a bird pool that I personally dug in my front yard. This happened around the same time. I had just moved out to my woods and was trying to learn about the things around me, like birds and trees and other growing stuff.I was in Williamsburg, Va. touring the lovely Colonial town that has been excavated and reconstructed. This reconstruction is historically accurate in all areas – even to the birdhouses. I had noticed these brownish glazed earthenware things up under the eaves of the houses. They looked like vases with their bottoms attached to the wall – sort of lying on their sides. Hanging out of them were the tattered ends of what appeared to be bird nests with the tell-tale droppings decorating it and a little stick as a perch.  I of course asked about them and found they were called bird bottles and they are actually birdhouses. These clay items are authentic reproductions of an 18th century bird bottle that was excavated from the James Geddy House yard by Williamsburg archaeologist Ivor Noel Hume. Fragments were also found at other sites known to have been owned and used by Colonial residents.I bought one in the gift shop and brought it home to my woods to see what I could attract.  In Williamsburg a variety of birds inhabit the bottles – Baltimore orioles, catbirds, martins and even grosbeaks. The Colonial name for this item was “Martin pot.” Historians believe the residents encouraged these birds to roost near their homes to help with insect control. The clay is coated with a transparent glaze to waterproof it and to provide adequate insulation for its inhabitants.The directions suggested that it face either east or west and that it be placed near trees or shrubs to provide cover. So the first year that’s what I did. I hung it at the perimeter of my open yard nears bushes. Nothing happened. I moved it. Still nothing happened. So I did what the people at Williamsburg did and hung it on my house. Since I was not about to climb up to my eaves, I hung it on my raised front deck just over head high, facing west. It was in a corner of the deck with the front door to the left and a large sliding glass door to my bedroom on the right.At that time I had three kids living here and those doors were always opening and closing.  Lots of traffic and not exactly the quietest place around. But it seemed that I had barely put the hammer away when an adorable little Carolina Wren checked it out. Pretty soon I had a resident! I love those tiny birds. They have the loudest voices to be so tiny and their little tails stick straight up.  They are a yummy caramel color with some distinctive markings.I have determined that Carolinas must love to be around people. Every year I have at least one nesting. Sometimes if it is real early I will empty it and may get another nesting. They work so hard bringing edible tidbits to their noisy little babies. They perch on my deck and my furniture and serenade me daily. I can sit on the deck and read and it deters them not at all.When son #2 was in high school he had a motorcycle that he parked in our carport near the back wall and he would leave his helmet on the seat. One morning I saw a lot of activity going on around the helmet. I finally realized it was a Carolina. So I went outside to look and see what was going on. Lo and behold the little critter was building a nest UNDER THE HELMET! I told the kids about it and we decided the bird wanted a mobile home! Anyway I removed the helmet and the grasses and told my son not to leave the helmet there any more! I didn’t want him sitting on any eggs!Okay Ray – how was that? Carolinas do not need to be away from people. They like people and will nest right next to us. So do what I did and Google or Yahoo Bird Bottle. The exact same bottle I bought is for sale on the Williamsburg site and the Monticello site. It looks like a brown vase with a triangular opening in the bottom to hang it and a small hole in front for a stick perch.  Happy Birding!!
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