I got home from running errands a little while ago and Tammy was standing on the front porch sort of bouncing up and down like an excited kid ready to burst and said “I have something to show you.” I immediately thought to myself “oh fuck me how much is this going to fucking cost” and outwardly groan/sighed and said “ok”, and Tammy pointed at the ceiling of the porch and asked “This wasn’t here yesterday, was it?”

And I said “no, it wasn’t even here this morning,” and it wasn’t, because I put out all the house plants on the front porch and watered them so they could get some warmth and sunshine, and I’m pretty sure it was not there before. Do they really build a nest that damned fast or did I miss it this morning?

At any rate, this is on the opposite side of the porch from the birds last year, and it looks like a different kind of nest, SO I MAY BE HOSTING TWO BIRD FAMILIES THIS YEAR. I had Tammy use her go-go gadget arms and get a picture inside the nest:

Looks like I am going to have to research webcams for the house. I am very excited and am going to go buy a fern immediately for the other side of the house. I also put out two birdhouses yesterday along with the materials for hummingbird nests, so maybe the house will be a hive of activity.

This is the first time there has been a nest like that before, and I wonder if it is because I had feeders hanging from the porch over the winter. It was kind of annoying having the shells fall on the porch, but they doubled as traction for the snow, so it wasn’t that irritating. At any rate, we may have babies soon!

Also, here is a sweet picture of Thurston that Tammy took while he was lying on her this morning:

I am very excited about the birds!!!!

74 replies
  1. 1
    NotMax says:

    Because scrubbing bird droppings and being dive bombed whenever you set foot on the porch is such fun.

    /wet blanket

  2. 2
    Repatriated says:

    The nest is too close to the house.

    Now we’ve got that out of the way…. Hey, that’s pretty awesome. Enjoy the feathered roommates!

  3. 3
    Mary G says:

    Yay! New life flourishing in your care is life-affirming.

  4. 4
    Elizabelle says:

    Great news. Hello, Thurston.

  5. 5
    J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford says:

    You’re like some overalled West Virginia version of Tony Soprano and his ducks.

  6. 6
    MagdaInBlack says:

    I’m excited for you ☺️
    The swallows returning to my porch each spring were always cause for celebration.
    Enjoy 💞

  7. 7
    jl says:

    ” Looks like I am going to have to research webcams for the house. ”
    Wow. I thank Cole for the full service blog. And if Cole goes that route, good notion of how much this mess will cost.

    But I, (and maybe other commenters too I didn’t check back) was joking yesterday. Better to not fuss close around the nest much, otherwise the cute little birdies might get scared off. Cole’s prose poetry describing all the misery of having cute little birds harassing him on the stoop will be fine. I for one don’t need a bunch of pix and worrying Cole falling down and not being able to get up.

    But knowing something about Cole, he won’t be able to resist fussing around so maybe he should invest in a clapper first?

  8. 8
    Miss Bianca says:

    Aww, birdies and Thurston! Yay!!

    My neighbor swears that the hummingbirds are back, he’s apparently seen one, but so far, no joy at the Mountain Hacienda. I bet my friend D that we would see one by the 14th. So, STOP DUMPING SNOW ON US ALREADY, ye weather gods, so I can see the hummies without watching them shiver at the feeder!

  9. 9
    donnah says:

    One spring I watched a dedicated robin attempt to build a nest on a metal awning. There was a three or four inch flat top, but it slanted down steeply. She flew up with a beakful of twigs, landed on the flat part, tucked the twigs onto it, and they promptly all slid off and landed on the ground.

    She stood there with her head cocked and then started cheeping and squawking in bird rage. She flew down, gathered up the twigs, flew back up, put them on the ledge…and they all slid off again. She squawked again, absolutely furious. I watched her make the same attempt one more time, and then she gave up. I felt sorry for the poor thing, but it was a hilarious scene!

  10. 10
    ruemara says:

    Congratulations! I know you were worried about not having birds, so this is great!

  11. 11
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Thurston had his moment of cute. Now he’s going to be a terror the rest of the day.

  12. 12
    Mnemosyne says:

    Keep a close eye on Steve and Rosie — they will consider any fledglings to be tasty snacks that rightfully belong to them. Don’t let them out there unsupervised.

  13. 13
    Leto says:

    @jl: It sounds like he should start charging rent if they’re going to keep coming back! ;)

  14. 14
    Raven says:

    I had one being built in my mailbox last week. It be gone.

  15. 15
    trollhattan says:

    Pretty hilarious to buy serial birdhouses when you actually bought a birdhouse buying your house.

    I’m not this lucky but maybe our bedroom window mourning doves will be back this year?

  16. 16
    MelissaM says:

    Congrats on the new tenants and for a great shot of Thurston!

  17. 17
  18. 18
    Msb says:

    John, that’s so cool!

  19. 19

    Thurston never gets to be the cute one. This picture is groundbreaking.

  20. 20
    StringOnAStick says:

    I’m hoping the juvenile and jumped-up robin who was going nuts pecking at his reflection in our glass door comes back, just so our indoor kitties can enjoy it, because that will be some serious excitement for them!

    Belated thanks to everyone who had ideas about our one cat’s pica problem. I had to rush out to my PT appointment today and left my thin cotton pants out, and she ate a big hole in them; yesterday we discovered she had eaten the hems of my husband’s favorite house T-shirt and the fleece overshirt too. After looking over everything in the dog chewtoy aisle, I picked up a bag of dried turkey tendons since the size and texture seems right. We joked that she is forcing us to Kondo-ize our whole house, because otherwise she will chew a hole in it.

  21. 21
    karensky says:

    The Cole Sanctuary. I love it.

  22. 22
    NotMax says:


    Sounds like my tiny front porch. The months of spring mean constantly sweeping up twigs, grasses, bits of string and other stuff because the birdbrains are too stupid to figure out gravity. Not to mention the loud sounds during ungodly hours of the morning of them bumping into the walls and ceiling.

  23. 23
    Shana says:

    I noticed earlier this week that some birds are building a nest on one of the supports under our deck. I don’t often go out the basement door so hadn’t seen it before but we’re having the basement bathroom remodeled (we had mold, but luckily not the dreaded black mold). The contractor is going in and out of that door and wonder if the bird has been scared away.

    I know our cat can’t reach it so I’m not worried about that.

  24. 24
    opiejeanne says:

    The nest is too close to Steve.
    I’m not kidding, keep Steve away from the front porch if you can because you’d be surprised how high a determined cat can jump vertically. Many years ago we were charmed by a bird building a next at the top of a column on our porch, and the cat didn’t wait around for fledglings, he went for mom sitting on the nest and got her. It happened so fast we were stunned.

  25. 25

    Cole, ya need to get yourself some eaglets; though their nests are rather large.

  26. 26


    The nest is too close to Steve.

    …and the willow is too close to the blog.

  27. 27
    TMinSJ says:

    If you want little birds to come to your house or patio, what works here (Bay Area) is a fountain with tiers, where the level of the water is even with the lip of the bowl in the upper tiers. Like this one on Amazon. Hummingbirds, house finches, really anything dove size or smaller visits. And my cat likes the kitty TV through the window.

  28. 28
    Kelly says:

    Yesterday I saw an osprey hauling nest material to somewhere just upriver of our house. I’m heading outside to take pictures of new leaves. The riverside woods have tiny green, translucent leaves that contrast with the dark bark.

  29. 29
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: No, he doesn’t. Eagles have been known to prey on cats.

  30. 30
    laura says:

    I’m convinced Cole will have a bird’s nest in his beard before the summer’s over.

  31. 31
    Brachiator says:


    You must give off “hospitable to animal friends” vibes.

  32. 32
    rikyrah says:

    You got birds.
    And, that Thurston😎😎😏😏

  33. 33
    ruemara says:

    @laura: Now we know Cole is Radagast the Brown.

  34. 34
    germy says:

    @laura: Like Assange?

  35. 35
    TerryC says:

    I am delighted to see you being so happy and excited, John.

  36. 36
    CaseyL says:

    Those unknown birds have excellent taste in real estate: good walls on two sides, safely above any waterline other than 100-year flood, and under cover, out of the rain.

    Bird House-Hunters! OMG, what a hit that would be!

  37. 37
    jimmiraybob says:

    “oh fuck me how much is this going to fucking cost”

    Probably quite a bit by the time you figure in the cost of the system(s) of nets, trampolines, packing peanuts and down pillows that will have to be installed for the eventual launch of the babies. Not to mention baby monitors and security systems leading up to launch time

    I think that I now have a new favorite show for the spring.

  38. 38
    piratedan says:

    @germy: no, that would be RaggedyAss, the Brown

  39. 39
    Aleta says:

    Fantastic! A pair of something (I’ll call them aces) were checking out a spot with a view of my feeder a few weeks ago.

    Thurston looks extra happy.

  40. 40
    Patricia Kayden says:

    You should put up a video cam so that the bird excitement can be captured on camera. You’re an animal magnet, John. Nice!!

  41. 41
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Bird House-Hunters! OMG, what a hit that would be!

    HGTV or Animal Planet?

  42. 42
    MomSense says:

    Me thinks you have nesting mourning doves.

  43. 43
    seefleur says:

    And this is why I lurk here – the Cole critters are very lucky furry beings, and obviously there are some pretty smart birds in WV who have figured out the BEST residential area for nest-building-family-raising activities. Thurston needs more camera time – he’s under-rated on the adorable scale – and I think he’s smirking in that pic…

  44. 44
    FlyingToaster says:

    Our sparrows have already nested (and I believe at least a couple sets of babies have hatched, given the noise every evening) in the hollies and the juniper. It looks like we might have a pair of catbirds in the pine, and across the (front) street there’s a pair of robins in the neighbor’s maple. They like my garden better than their own yard, though.

    There are oodles of hawks who nest around here (Gore Place and along the Charles), and there’s one hawk from Mount Auburn Cemetery who likes to haunt my daughter’s school.

  45. 45
    BobS says:

    From my own experience, your cat won’t bother that nest. We’ve had phoebe’s use the same nest (built on an even more cat-accessible porch) for all but one of the past half dozen years, some years with two broods. One or both cats sleep on the couch under the nest regularly and barely notice it (at least they don’t let on that they do- after all, they’re cats).

  46. 46
    TomatoQueen says:

    Excellent bird architecture. Thurston really is a sweetie.

  47. 47
    dmsilev says:

    When I lived in Chicago, my first apartment was just across the street from a park that had a big nest built by a flock of monk parakeets (believed to have been originally escapees from a pet store). They build communal nests to help cope with the winters. I needed to use a decent telephoto lens to get good pictures, but every spring they were out there doing repairs and improvements on the thing. It was pretty impressive watching a bird fly up carrying a branch that was probably ten times its length and then seeing it patiently weave the branch into the nest structure.

  48. 48
    J R in WV says:

    And now I have to confess, we have fly-catchers that built a nest on a gutter, where it curled back under the eve to the side of the house, in the side of the house against the hillside.

    Then off-spring (I guess, here) came back one spring, and started to build a nest right on the frame of the front door, with mud and green moss and a few twigs.

    I noticed it pretty soon after they started, front door, right! I decided I needed to encourage them to build somewhere else, anywhere else, and scrapped the whole mess off with a trowel. I love the birds, we do hummer feeders, the neighbors are more out of the woods and have dozens of all kinds of birds.

    But not right over the front door. Just nope!

    ETA: I will kick in for a humming-bird nest web cam!!!

  49. 49

    at the family house in Palm Harbor, back in the days of my youth, my mom had a hanging basket potted plant in the front porch, and at some point when I was in middle school a ground dove decided to nest there. We did our best to respect her and the eggs, I think there was only one time the nest was disturbed by the local cats I think, and we had a few fun years of watching chicks grow up and fly away. Before I graduated high school mom decided she’d had enough of the bird poop ruining her front porch so she took down the basket. :(

  50. 50
    MagdaInBlack says:

    In my previous life, when I raised ducks, one of my 2 hens always made her way to the flowerbed and nested in the daylilys.
    The “Duck is in the Daylilys” was noted and celebrated.

  51. 51
  52. 52
    debbie says:

    What a great shot of Thurston!

  53. 53
    geg6 says:


    Glad your birds are back. Glad they are there and not at my house. Birds creep me out.

  54. 54
    zhena gogolia says:

    I agree with those who say that you should try to leave the birds alone as much as possible.

  55. 55
    Mary Ellen Sandahl says:

    Last spring a bluejay couple built their nest in the exactly analagous spot on our front porch (house built 1876,- its under-porchroof architecture very like yours, John. The female became accustomed to us gawking at her thru the front hall windows on either side of the door, and the parents apparently had no problem with occasional human goings in and out. They successfully raised four little ones.That nest looks a lot like the one they built (the remnants are still there), but yours may differ in size.
    Interestingly (and cutely), many years before I happened to see a househunting jay couple checking out that exact corner. I watched them discreetly from inside – it was a chilly day – while they first tried the opposite corner,then swtched corners, the female backing into the space to see if would accomodate her posterior and tail, the male watching with solicitous concern. “What do you think, honey? Big enough? are you comfy?” She wriggled around a bit: “Well, dear, maybe I’m just feeling fat…” They (or she, you could tell it was her decision) decided to find more spacious quarters. It was adorable. I looked jays up on the Cornell Labs ornithology site and read that they often mate for life.

  56. 56
    Redshift says:

    Good luck with your bird tenants!

    Ms. Redshift has seen a pair of cardinals who may be nesting in our holly bushes, but I haven’t spotted them yet. We’ve had house finches and mockingbirds in the front yard before, and robins in the back.

  57. 57
    Mary G says:

    My household has grown by two members – the teen’s older brother has moved in, along with his dog that he just rescued, a husky named Kodiak. He seems very chill, but the cats are going to freak out. Per Google huskies have a strong prey drive and think of cats as snacks, so I have instituted a strong quarantine system. Fortunately there are high bookcases all over, plus the cat tree, so there are plenty of escape spots.

  58. 58
    Gin & Tonic says:

    While I think a lot of the other New Englanders are more morning-thread folks, I was wondering if anyone’s planning to head to the efgoldman event tomorrow.

  59. 59
    la caterina says:

    Will you rig that tarp/bird chute thing again this year??? That was kinda fun to watch.

  60. 60
    Steeplejack says:

    @Mary G:

    Sorry to barge in, but this post triggers me in a “fretful geezer” way.

    I think you’re creating a prescription for disaster. I don’t think any “quarantine” system will work on a day-in, day-out basis—and why should the cats have to fear for their lives in their own established household?—plus you’ve also got the wild card of the (previous) teenager, who appears to be an unreliable little shit. He will break quarantine and tragedy will result.

    Okay, I’ll preëmptively fuck off now. Thanks for letting me vent.

  61. 61
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Mary G: GOOD. Because altho there are very chill Huskies who will recognize their house cats as Pack (I know, because I had one), you can never be too careful.

  62. 62
    Achrachno says:

    @Mary Ellen Sandahl: And I’ll bet John has a jay nest too. Looks like nests of Steller’s jay I’ve seen out west here, and those are closely related enough to blue jays that they probably build similar nests. It’s got to be a fairly large and strong bird, based on the size of those twigs.

  63. 63
    opiejeanne says:

    @Mary Ellen Sandahl: I love jays. We had scrub jays that our kids tamed by feeding them peanuts, starting when the first girl had recovered from chickenpox but not enough to go back to school. Three kids = six weeks of chickenpox, so each kid fed the birds for a week before heading back to school. The birds were so friendly that they’d fly into the house if we had a window open while the screens were off. They’d bring their babies to meet us every year after they’d fledged. They would visit us while we were eating outside but not if there was a visitor with us.
    We just started feeding the steller jays a few days ago and they now expect it. The stellers at our cabin recognize our car when we pull up. When we sold the previous car it took them a while to realize it was us. They start squawking at us the moment we park and before we go up the steps. Really smart birds, and they know us.

  64. 64
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Are you going?

  65. 65
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Did you ever see that wonderful documentary, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill? It’s well worth seeking out.

  66. 66
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Probably.

  67. 67
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Please give my love to Marilyn. I’ll be there in spirit.

  68. 68
    Mary G says:

    @Steeplejack: @Miss Bianca: I hear you. We have been looking at dogs and I have never ever seen a husky when I use the “good with cats” filter on Petfinder. Everyone knows the cats are my dealbreaker. Fortunately they are indoor and the dog can be in the fenced backyard part of the day and I have been promised he will stay in the boys’ bedroom when he is indoors. I feel a great deal of trepidation, but I am too softhearted to not try.

  69. 69
    Redshift says:

    @Mary G: Huh. Obviously you should be careful, but I have a friend whose family had a series of huskies along with cats, and then she raised huskies from puppies herself while also owning cats, and never had any trouble. (I can’t say what precautions they had with the younger huskies, but the older ones were not kept separate.)

    Good luck.

  70. 70
    Gammyjill says:

    Very, very cool.

  71. 71
    Sab says:

    @opiejeanne: My brother in law is Chinese. He has lived in Columbus OH which has high west nile problems. He has lived there since the 1980s and has never seen a blue jay.

    He came up to Akron, saw one in our window, and was extemely impressed, by a very local, very average and also very beautiful bird. He has lived in Columbus, Ohio since the late ninteen eighties and had never seen a blue jay? Our climate is so phucked.

    Something is seriously wrong with our ecosystem if bluejays are weird.

  72. 72
    Skepticat says:

    Excellent! You really designed that porch beautifully for this.

  73. 73
    Albatrossity says:

    @MomSense: Maybe, but to my eye it looks too tidy and sturdy for Mourning Dove. They often toss 12 sticks together and call it a nest; it’s not uncommon to be able to see the eggs and babies through the nest when looking from underneath it!

    I’m guessing American Robin. We’ll see!

  74. 74
    laura says:

    @germy: he’s more of the Kleenex boxes for shoes type.

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