Birdhouse Gourd: Acorns and Twigs

birdhouse gourd collage 2014Two summers ago I planted Birdhouse Gourds from seed. Infatuated with the idea of carving my own birdhouses, I imagined a garden filled with nesting birds.

A gardener can dream, can’t she?

Most of the gourds grew to about three inches, then dropped off the vine. By season’s end, two of the gourds reached maturity. I brought them indoors and let them dry for close to a year. They turned a wonderful, spotted brown.

I eagerly drilled an opening in one side, then added holes tiny holes in the bottom for drainage and along the stem. Further reading, however, proved that the opening was too large for any of our native birds. I learned, too, that the height of the nest and its ability to camouflage are important. If all the nesting conditions aren’t met, the nest is a no-go.

So, with nothing to lose, I hung the gourd in the tree and simply enjoyed the view.

Several months later I found the gourd on the lawn. I picked it up to return it to the tree and heard a rattling inside. All sorts of things crossed my mind. Could it be a nest? If it was a nest, why was it on the ground? Since it was on the ground, did another critter disturb it? When I mustered the courage to look inside, I realized it was full of small twigs and acorn-like nuts. Excited about this new and unexpected development, I returned the gourd to the tree, hoping the scavenger might return.

gourd with twigs

Gourd with one of the twigs visible

Alas, I’m still waiting. I’m sure the critter is coming and going, just not when I’m around to see it.

Do you ever wonder what’s going on outside your window as you go about the business of daily life? I’m intrigued by the discoveries of nature at work and wish I had the time to sit undisturbed in a chair so I could focus on the nature around me. Alternatively, wouldn’t it be fun to install a ‘nanny-cam’ outdoors to capture what we missed?

What’s your take on the contents of the gourd? Is it a secret stash? An unfinished nest? Did one of the squirrels tidy up the yard and use the gourd as a rubbish bin? I would love to hear your thoughts.

15 thoughts on “Birdhouse Gourd: Acorns and Twigs

  1. Maybe a secret stash made by a squirrel and he forgot about it? Our squirrels are terrible at remembering where they buried things! The gourd does look pretty though, even if it isn’t a nest. 🙂

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    • Thank you, Cathy. Our neighborhood squirrels have short memories as well. I dig up peanut shells all summer long when I’m gardening, then watch tiny pumpkin plants sprout throughout the lawn, forgotten seeds from the squirrels. Given the size of the contents, it would have to be something large (like a squirrel or rat). I prefer to think it’s a squirrel. 🙂

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  2. I would like to think it’s a bird getting ready for spring – but the thought did cross my mind that it might be your lost rat setting up a new home? I hope not! The gourd does look lovely. Sometimes our best laid plans just go plum astray though! I rather fear I have two metre tall tomatoes filled with flowers and not a fruit in sight – obviously not enough going on in this tiny space with pollinators! There have been a few bees, but they are seen only around the lavender.

    I sat quietly in the park this morning listening to the wind in the huge old oak trees and watching the birds gather for an early morning meeting. It was lovely. Then Siddy’s pal Frankie showed up. Frankie is the same age as Siddy but ten times the size. They adore each other and are hilarious to watch as they take turns at chasing each other. No quiet then and the birds gave up on their meeting and went elsewhere!

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    • Oh how you tease me so. I would love to say that the (currently MIA) rat had moved on. It’s the perfect opening for a rat, too. Shall I bring it indoors and see if he sets up shop? Wouldn’t that be a kick. Then I could just tip toe out to the tree (nothing to see here folks) and be done with it.

      Last night I saw Mouse camped out in front of the opening of the bookshelf. After days of setting not one but two live traps, we’ve managed to attract ants…and no rat. I also saw the strangest thing this morning: Mouse the cat licking ants off of the floor. Have you ever seen a cat eat ants? This was a first for me.

      Please don’t despair yet about those tomatoes. If you’re garden has bees they may be working when you aren’t looking. As I write this I have to say I’ve never noticed the bees on my tomatoes, but manage a crop every year.

      How wonderful to have some quiet time in the park. Oaks are one of my favorite trees. They’re so majestic and I think full of stories to tell if we could hear what they have to say.

      I smiled to hear that Siddy’s pal Frankie arrived on the scene. It’s delightful to see dogs enjoying each other. The birds are probably chattering in the trees thinking ‘the nerve of those two dogs!”

      Listen to me: I anthropomorphize everything!

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      • Anthropomorphise away – I tend to do the same to my shame 🙂

        I have never seen a cat eat ants before! We don’t have them here, but this is the only place I have lived in this country that doesn’t. I have had cats sit and watch them – I had a cat who like to make them re-route by sitting on top of their path until she was satisfied the detour had been made and then she would leave. That was Moofy, a cat with control issues 🙂

        Re my tomatoes – guess what? Just yesterday as I was watering them I saw tons of tiny fruits had set! They must have heard my woeful prediction and hurried themselves up. Now I’m hoping they will grow and ripen before the sun leaves the area. It looks like a jungle out there – I must take some photos for the blog!

        Must write a blog post ………

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    • I would love that. I think they’re an amazing thing to grow, but they take up a lot of space and water for something I don’t eat or carve or display. I’m so glad to have done it once, though and love having them.

      I’ve been planning to turn the second on into a fairy garden, but I don’t have the proper tools to carve it. Must see what I can do.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. I love the idea of a nanny cam to watch the outside. My techy son should be here soon and he loves wiring up stuff like that. I’d love to see what’s happening when I can’t look. It may be a nest that didn’t quite happen. That’s my guess anyway. What a fun mystery.

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  4. My take is a squirrel bounce by when his mouth was full and unloaded a couple in there, but when it fell to the ground, he gave up on that hiding place. I would have moved in if I were a little bird in your hood, it was so soft in there. Then I’d collect kitty hair to make the softest nest ever. I guess we got lucky at the lake, I didn’t do any research and just drilled holes with the size of drill I had. Do you have Starlings? They don’t seem to be very fussy xo ❤

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