February 15, 2011

"Home" from a Bird's Perspective

Pin It Now! Human homes come in many shapes, sizes, styles and colors. We've got Craftsman Bungalows, Mid-Century Modern Ranches, and Suburban McMansions. Some are built on the coast, some in the mountains, some in the city. We decorate our spaces with Pottery Barn sofas and Crate and Barrel rugs, vintage eBay discoveries, and treasured antiques. We spend hours, days, months and even years contemplating paint colors and materials as we strive to make our domestic environments suitable for our lifestyles and expressions of our artistic selves. We clean and we sort and we organize. In essence, we nest - preparing our homes for the lives that we live now, the lives that we have led in the past and the lives that we will continue to lead in the future.
There is a unique quality to each of our spaces, surely, as is evidenced by the many design blogs, magazines, etc. But when you really start to think about it, are our homes really all that different from one another? We all essentially just live in boxes. Boxes filled with things to sit on, things to keep us warm, things to eat, and things to keep us entertained. Humans, at least those of us fortunate enough to have proper shelter, pretty much all live the same.

This is something I've thought about quite a bit. This weekend, as we tackled some much needed yard clean-up, I was reminded of how similar all of us humans live. In fact, not just how all humans live, but how all living creatures make their homes.

For the past several years, we have been lucky enough to have birds make their homes in the jasmine plants in the front yard. They build their nests in the well-protected vines and raise their babies. Some babies fall from their nests (so sad) but most of them are tended to until they are big enough to fly away and live the life of a grown-up bird. They come back each spring, so, with the warm weather we've been having, I knew it was time to trim that jasmine before they began nesting again for the season.

While cleaning and trimming the jasmine, I came across at least 10 nests. A few of them had deteriorated, but several of them were still so perfect. I pulled them out and took a few photos to share before securing them back in the jasmine again. (Hopefully this won't affect their return! I tried to make it comfy.)

These nests were so beautiful, and so perfect, but all slightly different. I started to wonder, if birds could analyze each other's homes, would they notice the nuances like we do with our own homes? Would one say to the other, "I like that blue string you used there. Where did you get that? I want one." Or, "I wouldn't have used those brown feathers. They look dirty. White would have looked much cleaner." If one bird has a bigger nest in the next tree, does he immediately get working on his own nest, adding more bits of string, twigs, feathers - anything he can get his hands on to out-do his neighbor?

Or does he just appreciate his little nest for what it is? A humble shelter. A place to raise his young. A home built with his own two feet and...beak.