Nature has come to the Hunt home recently. Some of it has been good and some has definitely been not so good.
It all started several weeks ago when we began to see twigs and small pieces of material on the hood of my car. Last year, a little bird built a nest inside our garage and I remembered seeing her going back and forth working very hard to replace the nest that my husband, David, removed from the garage light fixture after her four babies had flown.
Needless to say, my car never made it into the garage last spring during the time that she was building the nest, sitting on it, then watching the four little ones hatch. We waited while the little ones opened their beaks and I’m guessing the momma bird and the poppa bird flew in and out of the garage to feed them constantly with tiny bits they found in the yard. During that time we didn’t even walk through the garage so as not to disturb them.
The little ones grew pretty fast and before long they were looking out of the nest. We knew that the next step would be teaching them to fly and hoped that David’s indoor-outdoor kitty, Prettyfoot, didn’t get them in case they fell. Then one morning when we weren’t looking they all flew away and never returned. That is when the nest was removed and the car returned to its garage.
Earlier this spring we started seeing a bird, could be the same one or one of the babies, begin spending a lot of time in the garage, flying out when we appeared and in when we disappeared. Yes, she was building a nest in the same place on the light fixture and making a mess once again on the garage floor.
She began sitting on the nest and pretty much guarding it when anyone appeared in the garage. The car got kicked out once more and traffic was limited as much as possible. Then one day I spied a fuzzy little head in the nest with its beak open waiting for momma and poppa to bring a goodie for it or them.
The next thing that happened was that our two four-legged, furry children, Andrew and Chico, barked continuously in the garage for a couple of nights keeping me awake despite my telling them to hush and come inside. We have a doggie door in the garage for their convenience when nature called. Then we began noticing things on shelves being moved or rearranged, especially on the shelf where the kitty eats so that the dogs cannot get to her food. All of this was taking place while momma bird was sitting on her nest. The third day of the commotion in the garage we saw the culprit higher up on another shelf. It was a possum.
Every time we saw him and looked for something to scare him away he took off running and disappeared. David isn’t the type person who would kill it, so he borrowed a live trap and set it with some of the cat food and treats that he evidently had been eating every night. He must have been a very curious possum because right on schedule after we went to bed, the dogs began barking and the possum got into the trap. The barking sound changed to a much quieter, half hearted occasional bark when Andrew went out to check on everything.
He looked like a scared little animal when I went out to have a look at what had been disturbing my sleep. David loaded him up in the pickup and took him very far away and released him in the woods. I’m just hoping that he doesn’t find his way back to our house.
After the possum was taken care of, I checked on the baby birds for several days and again saw them religiously being taken care of by their parents. A few days ago while the baby birds still were being fed by the momma and poppa, I opened the door into the garage and looked up at the nest on the light fixture that hangs there. When I first get up in the morning, my eyes don’t focus very well so I moved closer trying to figure out what was wrapped around the light fixture.
I backed off and yelled for David to come see what it was. He quickly determined that it was a snake wrapped around the light fixture, probably eating the baby birds that we had been watching. The momma and poppa birds were going crazy flying around in the garage trying to scare the intruder away to no success. We had a hard time deciding what to do. This was no small snake. It was the largest I have ever seen around our property.
I blocked the doggie door and came into the house because I’m very much afraid of snakes. We don’t know what kind of snake he was, but anything larger than a grass snake is dangerous to me and he definitely was a lot larger around — we estimated it to be three to four feet long.
David crept up as close as he safely could and took a shot, hitting the target. The snake fell off the light fixture and very quickly scurried to the side of the garage where some buckets and other things are stored. There was no sound from the nest, but the parent birds still were very upset for several more hours.
Now I’m sorry that the nest is empty and the parent birds have flown away. But wait, the snake might have still been in the garage and I wondered if he could come in the doggie door if I released its cover. Finally we called in help from our son, Rob, and he and David searched the garage thoroughly and found no snake. I guess he slithered away when we were not looking.
Living in the country has its good side and up until now, the only bad side we have had was the loss of a couple of dogs and cats to the wild animals, assumed to be a coyote. Now, fortunately at night our older dogs don’t go out much farther than the garage when they take a potty break and the cat pretty much stays in the house at night. I know that all of this is nature, but I really hated to lose the little birds.
Quietness had returned to the Hunt home at night, sleep had been restored and the car had been returned safely to the garage. But nature isn’t finished tormenting the Hunt family. Saturday afternoon as I was in the car getting ready to go to the grocery store, I realized that the battery on my cellphone was getting low so I opened the glove box and reached in searching for my charger. A friendly mouse ran out on me and then disappeared somewhere in my car. I didn’t scream but I quickly left the car and summoned David who looked but found no trace of the little critter. He assured me that it wouldn’t hurt me if it decided to make an appearance while I was away from home so I went on my way and nothing happened.
We have no idea how he got into the glove box. Tonight David is setting two traps in the car.
Donna Hunt is former editor of The Denison Herald. She lives in Denison and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.