You might remember that, earlier this summer, I shared my Easy DIY Hanging Garden Sphere. I also shared it on Hometalk where, to my surprise, this simple project became wildly popular.
But the surprises were just beginning.
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Invasion of the Giant Hand
The sphere was hanging at eye level on my front porch. One day, after it had been hanging there a couple of weeks, I went to see see if it needed watering. Since I’m too lazy to use a moisture meter, I put my hand into the sphere to feel the soil and see if it was dry.
Suddenly a little bird burst out of the sphere and screeched at me. She was very upset, so I backed away. Later I checked and, sure enough, there was a tiny nest in there.
Imagine this poor mama bird’s surprise when a giant hand came down and almost destroyed her nest!
The smaller leaves around the nest are from baby tears. Baby tear leaves are only about a quarter inch long at best, so you can imagine how tiny these eggs were.
We have several feeders and bird baths in our garden, so maybe this bird saw that as an invitation to build a nest here.
This mama bird had a devoted mate, and after getting a few more looks at them we figured out that they were dark-eyed juncos.
Juncos usually place their nests on or near the ground – or sometimes in hanging baskets. The sphere was a prime location: Its wire cover made it safe from predators. Under cover of the porch, it was also protected from weather.
After discovering the nest, I only watered the sphere when both parents were away, which wasn’t often. And I didn’t water near the nest.
Needless to say, the sphere did not get much water.
Soon the eggs hatched. Both parents scurried to feed the hatchlings. It was pretty adorable how devoted these junco parents were to each other and to their babies.
They ran a tight ship. They kept the nest clean by carrying away the cracked egg shells and baby bird poop.
The parents yelled at us (in the form of a “tick! tick!”) whenever we neared the front porch.
I didn’t want to sacrifice their sense of security by hovering or taking lots of photos. We stayed away for the most part, and any viewing of the sphere happened from afar.
Finally the big day came: The babies left the nest. I guess I was expecting a little more fanfare, but it happened so quickly and quietly that we didn’t even notice.
I was thrilled that they made it – and thrilled to have our front porch back. Now we could finally sip coffee on the swing rocker again!
Or so I thought.
Just a few days after the babies had left, I watered the sphere and stopped to marvel at what I thought was the empty nest.
But then I noticed something was wrong. The bottom of the nest was missing and I could see the soil underneath.
Were the parents removing the nest?
But wait, were there two nests in there? Yep, what I was looking at was actually a new nest under construction – directly across from the old nest.
So much for using the swing rocker.
Juncos hide their nests well. You have to look pretty hard to spot them in the photo below.
Chris talked to a bird expert who told him that it could be the same mating pair who built the first nest, or it could be a different pair.
My money is on it being the same pair.
The expert also said that we were doing the right thing by trying to keep the sphere watered since the plants provided protection for the birds. We just had to be careful.
The nest took shape quickly. It was built right into the soil.
Soon four tiny eggs appeared. The devoted dad was usually close by while mama sat on the nest.
The eggs hatched, and mom and dad once again scurried to find food.
And, once again, we got yelled at whenever we neared the front porch.
Then one day I was working in the driveway and I heard that all-too-familiar “tick tick” sound of a worried parent junco. That’s when I saw an immature bird hopping around in the shrubs a few feet away.
Yes! The babies were coming out of the nest. Soon we could use our porch again.
It still feels strange and a bit disappointing to just waltz out to our front porch without getting yelled at by juncos. And it’s funny how a location that was so important to them a mere week ago now sits abandoned. The first nest has already been covered over by the baby tears.
Things did not go quite as I’d planned for my garden sphere, and it is probably a little worse for being neglected this summer. But I love that it was the safe and cozy home for eight new birds.
Next year I might try planting a fern in the sphere.
I hope the juncos like it.
Interested in learning more about birds and how to attract them to your garden? We’ve been enjoying reading The Joy of Bird Feeding by Jim Carpenter.
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