God is right with us and in us, out of us and all through us, but we have to go on journeys to find him. ------Thomas Merton
April is the month of homing. Following the sun, birds return to familiar places, there to search for twigs, grasses or feathers to build their nests.
Migratory birds prepare for their arduous trip north by growing new feathers and building up inner fuel needed for the long flight.
Soon, the Canada Geese will be back on the pond behind my home in coastal Southern New Jersey. Geese, hummingbirds and other migratory birds will then be in the business of nest-building, scooping up and collecting strands and threads of twigs, moss and grasses for their snug home furnishings. I will be doing the opposite, undoing a nest, preparing for my next journey as a full-time Florida resident.
Some species of birds have helpers in nest-building. The red-cockaded woodpecker nests in cavities that can take years to construct, with a little help from friends. In their tree homes, they live in communal groups returning to the same home for as long as ten years. When one of the paired birds die, another will move in a take its place in the nest. Other species of woodpeckers such as pileated woodpeckers, do not migrate, saving their energy for longer lives together in one habitat. Hmmm.
As we near the summer solstice, leaning higher toward the light, how clear it is to me, that in all our comings and goings, the miles covered, the side roads, detours, and journeys taken, we have been nest building our whole lives, gathering strands of you and me, the helpers, threaded together, spooled and entwined, until we get our new feathers for our final journey, our true homing destination.
Fun Facts about Bird Nests:
- Some birds will use abandoned homes from other animals. Burrowing owls have been known to use abandoned prairie dog burrows to raise young.
- Blue-gray gnatcatchers makes their nests out of spiderwebs and lichen.
- Ruby-throated hummingbirds have nests about the size of a thimble.
- Gyrfalcons can use theirs for generations- one was discovered to be over 2,500 years old. They use rocky ledges or old raven nests.
- Bald eagles build strong nests and use them year after year. They make improvements and add to the nest, it can weigh over a ton! The largest eagle nest was 20 feet deep and estimated to weigh 2 tons.