In light of the constant stream of ugliness into which I seem duty-bound to wallow, it’s nice to have a reminder that not everything is ugly. Especially this time of year. A black-capped chickadee couple has decided to build a nest in a funky-chic handmade decorative birdhouse hanging only eighteen inches away from the back door — as this picture will hopefully illustrate:

If I’m lucky I might get some pictures of the birds as the plot thickens, but right now they come and go so fast that I haven’t had time to grab the camera. The male, however, has spent an inordinate amount of time stuffing that house (which looks too large for these tiny birds) with soft sprigs, tufts of little debris, and even small feathers, and I think the female is holed up inside. The problem is that I found that birdhouse set out on the street in front of someone’s home with a bunch of other junk, and I thought it might be a decoration and just hung it on the only existing hook I could find under the porch to keep it from getting further destroyed by weather. It never occurred to me that any bird would nest there, as it is too close to a door in constant use by humans, and birds have better sense than that, right?

Wrong! Chickadees are highly intelligent, and they don’t have as much fear of humans as other wild birds. Whether that means they lack sense I do not know, but there are a lot of intelligent people in this college town with absolutely zero sense, doing lots of clueless, reckless things. Anyway, once I saw what was happening (and realized that the fledglings would eventually be tumbling onto my deck and at the erratic and unpredictable mercies of Coco, who does not yet understand that birds are not something to be chased), I thought I would do the kind and humane thing, and simply move the birdhouse.

No way! The chickadees threw a fit and would not let me. They angrily fluttered back and forth from where it had been, and every time I went out there they made sure I saw them. They would not go to its new location. Finally I could not take it (after all, they had spent many days building their nest inside), so I put the house back where it is now — in what I consider the wrong place. Hey I tried to warn them, and frankly I’m amazed all that house movement didn’t cause them to abandon it. But if you think about it, being close to a human habitation offers certain advantages. Other birds aren’t likely to compete or attack the nest because they have more fear of humans, and cats, squirrels, or other bird predators can’t get to the hanging nest easily and are unlikely to come near the house — not just because of humans but also because of Coco. I only hope the fledglings leave when Coco is off-duty and inside, and if and when I see them, I’ll have to keep her away until the coast is clear. Meanwhile, she will defend their nest by default, even though she has no idea it’s there.

In addition to nest building by birds, there’s also a lot of pollination going on.

By bees:

And butterflies:

So, it’s not all ugly all the time out there.