May 17, 2008

The Goddess Kali, or 3rd Time's the Charm

I work very hard at providing a safe haven for wildlife in my small slice of suburbia. I've provided food plants, cover, and water for a spectrum of birds, small animals, and insect life, and I'm scrupulously organic in my maintenance. It's a selfish practice, really, because I get so much pleasure out of discovering and observing all the creatures that visit or live in my micro-environment.

I can't always get it right. A month ago I was doing some renewal pruning on some seriously overgrown arborvitae when I inadvertently toppled a robin's nest. No chicks, thankfully, just eggs, and I turned it into a learning experience for the little girl next door. I knew it was early enough in the season that the robins would try again.

I found their next attempt a few weeks later when I was pruning on the other side of the yard. This time I spotted the nest before it toppled, and relocated it in the same tree, but they abandoned the eggs. I was beginning to feel like the Goddess Kali of my small universe.

Today I found that the robins have relocated again, this time to a safe and time-tested spot under my second-story deck. We've had many robin's nests here; they are sheltered from the weather, safe from cats, and near the steady food source of the veggie garden. This site was the launching pad for the robin featured in my work The Fledgling, and I feel confident this clutch of eggs will also be safely fledged.

In other exciting garden news. I uncovered a eastern spadefoot toad in the veggie garden this morning. I am inordinately fond of toads. I like their attitude. They will hop away if you really pester them, but on the whole they are not prone to panic. They will gaze back at you in an inscrutable way, then go about their business of eating lots and lots of insects. It's instructive to watch an young dog or cat encounter a toad for the first time. It only takes one experience of mouthing it to learn to leave toads strictly alone--they excrete an extremely unpleasant toxin from their skin.

I think they are beautiful and am always thrilled to come across one. Isn't it brilliantly camouflaged?


SAUMITRA said...

Just lovely.
All the best in your unique endeavour.

Sue Reno said...

Thank you Saumitra, for you kind words.