This is the time of year when it’s good to get your nest boxes cleaned out and ready for a new generation of feathered inhabitants. Here’s the RSPB advice on how to clean out your nest box. Small birds tend to pair up and prospect for their nesting site in the latter half of February and early March, so this is a great time to put up any new nest boxes you might have. We’ve got two nest boxes to put up this year: we’ve relocated my beautiful colourful box from the outside of the studio-cabin at Teapot Street to the New House, and I was given a very lovely nest box for my birthday this year (purchased, I believe, at the beautiful Henderson’s in Melrose).
The BTO have some tips on their website for choosing the best spot for a nest box in your garden.
The garden birds preparing to nest seems particularly poignant for me this year as I prepare to do some nesting myself. Nesting is a very real human phenomenon during pregnancy. It usually manifests as a strong urge to clean and get everything in order for the new arrival. Pregnancy hormones are mostly to blame, and a residual survival instinct from when we were wilder is responsible for the rest.
For me, so far, nesting has taken the form of wanting to stay closer to home and get prepared. I spend far too much time writing lists of things we might need for the baby, then staring at those lists, and ticking things off. I daydream even more than usual. I’m absolutely desperate to get on with getting the nursery ready for Percy Blueberry’s arrival. I’ve got lots of ideas for decor for the nursery, and I can’t wait to wash all the little baby clothes and put them away (the only time in my life I’ve ever wanted to do laundry). We bought a second-hand chest of drawers last weekend which has handles that are crying out to be painted in rainbow colours; and the walls are just waiting for a mural! I have to wait, though, as we are putting in a new bathroom and decorating our bedroom first (the classic cliche of doing work to your house while very pregnant!). Once that’s done we can turn our attention to the nursery. Luckily we still have 8 weeks to go until due date!
I love that we’re having a spring-time baby. He’ll be in line with the lambs and the bunnies. I’ve been watching mallards on our neighour’s pond and I’m hoping that there’ll be ducklings there this Spring to watch as we wait for our own arrival. Human babies stay babies for so much longer than their wild counterparts do. By the time Percy Blueberry is ready to walk the neighbour-ducklings will be ready to start families of their own.
As always, though, waiting for the new arrival is a mixture of excitement and nervousness. Everywhere in nature the vulnerability of new life is evident. To be a body, whether human or animal, is to be vulnerable. We have such wonderful medical care in the UK, but the burden of the parents-to-be is that they cannot control the outcome of their pregnancy. Just like the blue tits choosing their nesting site, we can do our best to prepare for parenthood, and then we just have to hope that everything works out well.