What’s new on the plateau

What’s new on the plateau

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Patrick Taylor – Highlands Mayor

I’ve had a bird problem.  It started last summer when I went to fire my large gas kiln. After loading the kiln, I turned to access a small shed where I keep some 75 firebrick that make up the door to the kiln. The bricks are stacked to enclose the kiln opening before firing. 

As I began the stacking process, I realized I had failed to close the doors to the shed since the last firing.  And there in the upper shelf where I store gloves, insulation and other materials, a Carolina Wren had built a nest and was staring me in the face as if to say, what are you doing here, can’t you see I’m busy? We found an accommodation and the bird parents raised their baby birds as I would carefully retrieve my firebricks to fire my kiln serval times in their process.  After the birds flew the coop, I  remembered to keep the shed doors closed.

It wasn’t over.  About a month ago I was working in my studio making coffee mugs. The front door was open and a Carolina Wren flew in, probably the same bird.  I stopped my work and helped the bird find its way out.  I did that a couple of times.  Later in the afternoon I returned to the studio to find the bird had brought in twigs, leaves and even moss and placed them in plies on a shelf next to my electric kiln.  The shelf is just inside the studio door.

I grabbed the mess they were making and threw it outside and shouted to the birds to go away. I thought that was the end of it.  I didn’t return to my studio for a couple of days, but when I did, I discovered a beautiful domed nest in a plastic box of supplies.  I realized then that I was an unwilling participant of another Carolina Wren breeding and hatching season.  Sure enough a couple of days later, the Wren was sitting on the nest looking at me as if to say, go about your business and I will do mine.

She sat there for days as I gingerly came and went from my studio.  Then one evening I saw three fuzzy, yellow-beaked chicks  staring at me as if I were a parent bringing them food.  

For about a week, if I was working in my studio, the wrens would make a fussing noise outside my front door when they wanted to feed their babies. I would stop my work and go to the back room where she could not see me. It took a moment for her to feed her chicks, and then I could return to work.

One afternoon this past week I was working in the studio and heard a commotion and noticed the wren parents and fuzzy chicks hopping and chirping around the studio. I knew the drill, I had to leave while the parents coaxed their youngsters to fly away.  I left the studio for a day. When I returned, the nest was empty and the chicks had flown the coop.  

This experience reminds me that we live in a beautiful, yet shared environment. Let’s not forget that our actions; building, cutting trees, moving about, etc. do impact other living creatures.  This plateau is not just for us humans, it’s for all the marvelous plants and animals.  After all, that is what makes it so unique and special. 

I will continue to keep my doors open.

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