– by Paula Ziebarth, Delaware County Coordinator, Ohio Bluebird Society
Yesterday at my son’s track practice, I spied some nest boxes on the edge of the wood near the track and I had to investigate. They were sturdy, weathered boxes. I opened one. I was saddened – fascinated – and then saddened again to find the box in a state of what I term “Bird’s Nest Parfait”. Several more boxes told a similar tale and I thought I might just write it down.
I dedicate “The Tale of the Three Little Birds” to three special people: to my friend Robin as she tries to explain the dangers of House Sparrows to her children; to my friend Darlene and her Eagle Scouts; and finally to my special friend Josh whose kind heart lightens my steps. Paula Ziebarth, 3-30-05
The Tale of the Three Little Birds
Once upon a time, on a fine spring day, a little bird watched with interest as a young boy installed a sturdy nest box on the edge of an Ohio woodland. The little Chickadee was timid and shy. He waited for the boy to leave and went to investigate. He liked what he saw. This was a fine place to build his nest. He knew nothing could huff and puff and blow this house down. In secret, his mate carried pieces of springy green moss into the box and made a cushiony mattress for her eggs. She covered it all with a soft layer of rabbit fur. The resilient, cushiony nest calmed the little Chickadee’s nerves and she settled down to lay her eggs.
While eating fat insects in the grass near the woodland, a second little bird spied the sturdy nest box and flew to investigate. This bird appeared to carry the sky on his back, his bright blue feathers flashing in the sun. The Bluebird approached the box directly and peered inside. He liked what he saw. This was a fine place to build his nest. He knew nothing could huff and puff and blow this house down. He saw that the box was already occupied and so, with a soft warble, he left in search of another sturdy box of his own.
The third little bird arrived at the edge of the woodland with a flourish. He had flown a long distance from the south to find a perfect place to build his nest. He announced his arrival with a boisterous, beautiful, bubbling song. He, too, spied the box and liked what he saw. This was a fine place to build his nest. He knew nothing could huff and puff and blow this house down. With a quick flick of his tail, he entered the box and removed the soft rabbit fur. The little brown House Wren pulled out most of the springy green moss. His nest would be made of sticks.
And though this is the tale of the three little birds, unfortunately it doesn’t end here. A fourth little bird came upon the box on the edge of the Ohio woodland. This little brown creature was different from any that the three little birds had ever seen. They quickly surmised that he had come from a far off land. They realized that he did not belong in their woodland. He was not an Ohio bird like they were. To their horror, they discovered that he was really a wolf in bird’s clothing.
And the English House Sparrow huffed and puffed and he blew all the other birds away. He built a shabby nest of straw in the sturdy nest box. He built it on top of the House Wren’s sticks. He built it on top of the Chickadee’s springy moss. The English House Sparrow and his mate raised a healthy family of five in the sturdy nest box. In that same year, they raised a second family, then a third, and then a fourth. The three little birds left the House Sparrow alone because they knew he was really a wolf in bird’s clothing.
Several years later, a young man returned home from college. He took a walk to see the nest boxes he had installed years ago. As he approached, he saw several brown birds sitting on his nest boxes. Strange, he thought. He had heard that the nest boxes were supposed to house blue birds, but no matter. These brown ones seemed very happy. They were calling loudly from their perches atop the nest boxes.
The three little birds heard the call of the brown feathered creatures on the sturdy nest boxes. To their discerning ears, the call was not the sound of happy birds at all, but rather the cry of the wolf in bird’s clothing. Sadly, they bid their old home farewell in search of a safer place to raise their families.
Life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim.
– Bertrand Russell