Yesterday, noon recreation began like all other recreations--laughing, joking, enjoying the beautiful weather. It was such a nice day that some of the sisters decided to do some 'spring cleaning' with our bird houses. Last year we had put up three houses, one for wrens, one for chickadees, and one for flickers. The latter declined the use of our house despite the "Vacancy" sign scrawled across its front. This year we decided to move the flicker house and put a 'little bird' house in its place. When we arrived at the strawberry bed where the house is located, one of the sisters noticed that the house looked a little less than vacant. Suspicious looking straw was sticking through the back. It was assumed that some feathered friend had begun a nest but abandoned it at some point...though no one recalled having seen the straw before.
That's when these tale-tell marks were noticed by one particularly observant sister. Strange....very strange. One sister proffered that perhaps squirrels had been using it this winter, a nice cozy place during a very harsh winter.
However, no slumbering squirrel answered at sister's knock. The first order of business was to unscrew the front opening of the house so that it could be cleaned out and detach it from the post. Sr. Mary Magdalene borrowed a bench from our 'summer house' as the flicker house is placed rather high.
The screw came out with no issues, but as the sisters lifted the opening it was discovered that a second screw was still attached. A larger portion of the abandoned bird nest could be seen and as Sister removed the second screw another sister tilted the front portion a little farther. Suddenly, something exploded from the hole! Sister fell from the bench to a chorus of screams....soon to be accompanied by barks as our dog Sabina ran over. What was it?! Well, by the title of this blog post you know that it was a Squirrel! (Though the majority of the sisters mistook it for a Mourning Dove in its graceful dive from the birdhouse.)
But why was this squirrel in the bird house, in the middle of the day, and even after sister had knocked (just in case!) and begun drilling?
Babies! The ladder was fetched and one sister climbed up to look in. Using a pen light she could just see the movement of furry bodies deep in the nest. It was decided that the squirrels could keep the nest for now and it would be cleaned and moved after the babies...hatch? fledge? What is it that squirrel babies do when they leave a bird house nest?
It was only after the "bird" house was re-secured and the ladder put away that one sister remarked, "I forgot to write 'no' above the vacancy sign!"