The Rewards of a Simple Life

bird, nesting, finchWe are quite inconvenienced by a bird.

And we’re learning to let her have her way with us. 

A year ago, I bought a new front-door wreath to celebrate spring. It’s full of twigs and fake spring flowers and moss. When I hung it, within hours every time I opened the door a bird flew off, nearly taking the top of my head (or at least my hair).

Twice that happened and I knew enough to take the wreath down. Sure, our alcove and the wreath are great protection for small birds during a storm, but hey, it’s our front door.

This spring, forgetting last year’s experience, I put the wreath up and sure enough, within hours two birds begin exploring the wreath. Don’t they know it’s fake? Plus, it isn’t stormy out, or even too cold. The sun’s out, ferheaven’s sake.

But because of the way the sunlight gleams through the front-door curtain from the inside, my guy and I watch the two birds land on the wreath and explore it. Peck at it. Decide they love it.

And then, we get it. They’re building a nest.

“Better take it down before they get too far in their project,” I say.

My guy is silent.

“Right?” I ask.

“I think we should let them build their nest and raise a family,” he replies more poetically than this engineer usually ever speaks.

So, the wreath stays. We lock the front door, and every time we go outside, we open the garage door.

Like voyeurs, from the inside of our curtained window we watch the two birds –purple finches – industriously build their nest. Then, disappointingly, no activity. “They decided they don’t like the location,” my guy sighs. 

But the next day, we notice one of the birds sitting on top of the wreath. No, she’s sitting on their newly built nest. The next few days she sits for a while, and then visits our bird feeder, across the front lawn hanging on a tall tree. My guy used to fill that feeder every few days. Now, he fills it every morning. brid nesting, wreath, front door nesting

Have we become “those people”? Bird watchers?

Yes, we decide with glee. Because birds teach us so much. Solidarity, Persistence, Teambuilding, Loyalty, Dedication. Patience. Even parenting. Plus, as Cynthia Lewis put it so succinctly:

“You’ll have a lot more respect for a bird after you try making a nest.”

Miss Muffet (as my guy calls her) sits on that nest constantly now. We gingery fill the large planter box near the front door and attach a sign with a warning:

garden planter, porch planter“BIRD NESTING. PLEASE STAY AWAY FROM FRONT DOOR!”

And I think we’re doing that in a way, too – nesting in our “empty nest” of a home, encouraging a young’un to begin her own family. 

“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life.”    John Burroughs

In what way are you rewarded, simply?

151 thoughts on “The Rewards of a Simple Life

  1. How wonderful. You will be grandparents to baby birds if all goes well. I love this story and that you are willing to share your front door. I see another picture book coming soon. xo

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  2. We had the same thing happen on our front door wreath in Cutchogue. We had to use that door do the wreath came down. We also had a bird build a nest in the hanging plant in our front porch. I do miss the birds now that I live in Florida. Happy Spring!

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  3. This is so touching. As we elders become empty nesters after our wee ones grow up and fly away—our lives become full with many unexpected little creatures and simple moments. Chipmunks are our summer companions. 💗

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  4. My parents had birds nest in their wreath beside the front doors. They usually used the carport door anyway but I don’t recall what they did if people came to the front door. Perhaps they did not have many people who used that door.

    My cats enjoyed watching the birds at the feeder until the squirrels broke the silly thing. I’d like to get a feeder again. I need to think on that. Birds are so relaxing to watch.

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    • Oh the squirrels! The first couple years the squirrels were hanging down on the hanging high birdfeeder munching away but my guy acted like a “monster” and they know better now! They now seem quite content to munch on the seed that falls on the ground With the doves and the chipmunks. I agree: watching birds fly makes our souls soar.

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  5. You’ll never have an empty nest if this keeps us, Pam.

    I love and respect birds for all their qualities you list here, especially persistence. Why, your nest is a revolving “door”!

    We planted begonias and put them in a basket on a shepherd’s hook. Safe and beautiful, only the smartest birds nest there each spring–ha ha !

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    • Well those birds are very smart to nest in a shepherds hook with begonias! Smiling at your comment that we will never have an empty nest. Not as long as we have a door wreath! 😛

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  6. We went through this every year with our front door wreath, Pam. Usually, it’s wrens because they will next anywhere – even under the roots of a plant on my daughter’s front steps last year! You gotta let nature take its way and enjoy watching the babies!

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  7. I know we had problems in December [of all months] with birds trying to build a nest in our Christmas wreath. They defeated us to the point where we took down the wreath. I like the idea of trying to learn how to build a nest just so we could experience their trials.

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  8. At our last house we would have a catbird couple make a nest in the cherry laurel outside our screened in porch. We all, including the cats enjoyed watching them sit on the nest. Two years in a row there were eggs but after a few weeks the birds were gone and the eggs remained unhatched. I often wondered what happened.

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    • I do wonder what happened to your birds’ eggs. I am amazed at how long it takes for these eggs to hatch. Our little mama has been sitting on there patiently for two weeks now. Every once in a while she tweets and I hope the male comes and brings her some food!

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  9. Awwww. I just LOVE THIS, Pam. What a wonderful way to celebrate spring and birds and find joy in cohabitating with nature. 🙂 So heartwarming and beautiful! I love the photo through the window and your engineer-hubby’s warm heart. And the sign. Lol.

    Since we don’t have pets anymore, my husband is trying to adopt the entire bird population of our mountain. We have about 70 birds at a time, enjoying his feast of seeds. It’s crazy, especially when they spook each other and all take off at once. And the squirrels climbing onto my lap for a walnut. 🙂

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  10. Enchanting real life story Pam! (As are all the others I hasten to add). I can see and hear birds chirping as it type, always a delight. Butterflies are equally a delight. Much else – including your post.

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    • Thank you Susan. Early in the morning I sit out on our rocking chair on the porch and listen to the truly beautiful music of the birds. It is so soothing! Every once in a while hummingbird comes and swirls in front of me. We need to wait another few weeks before the butterflies arrive. 🦋

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  11. Beautiful, Pam. I’m so glad you allowed the birds to nest there. It will be difficult to keep people away, unless you have another entrance to your home. Can people knock on the garage door?

    Yes, the simple pleasures of life are fulfilling to us as well – pretty much anything of that last quote fills me with wonder and gratitude. 🙂

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    • So far everyone has been very respectful of Miss Muffett and her duty warming up the eggs in her nest. Even the Amazon delivery person gingerly leaves a box next to the garage door instead of the front door. 🙂 Agree – the last quote reminds me to appreciate the joy surrounding me in such simple ways. ❤

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  12. I love this, Pam 🙂 What a gift from the birds to be able to watch the cycle of life through your front door. Enjoy your moments with the birds xo

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  13. What a cute story! My guy would also say the same thing as yours. He has a tendency of rescuing animals. It is quite funny that they chose your wreath again. Hm. A bit precarious, but luckily good peeps reside in the house 😀 Nice quotes you’ve shared, too.

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  14. Both a friend at a distance and I have both had the same experience with a front door wreath, and yes, directing people to another door. You’d think they’d know the greenery was artificial, but maybe that sturdiness is just what makes it such a good choice. I’m with you! I felt kind of honored, actually. 😊

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    • I like the thought of the “love nest. ” Mama Finch is STILL sitting on that nest waiting. Waiting. Waiting. And yes, it’s so sad when a bird hits the window, or hits AT the window thinking the reflection is a possible mate. ;-0 My best to Warrior YOU.

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  15. We have had the pleasure of birds nesting in our natural holiday wreaths more than once over the years. I kept the wreaths up until July 4th when fledglings were off and flying. The greenery had turned rust-colored by that time, but birds and bird-buddies (us), didn’t seem to mind a bit!

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  16. This is so exciting! You have been there the whole way through their journey…and you will get to be like grandparents when the babies are born. Hubby and I had the same wonderful experience. When the last baby left the nest (they don’t just fly, they drop to the ground and Mama squawks directions as how to fly) we were there the whole way through. Enjoy every moment.

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  17. This being almost Mother’s Day, I’ve been thinking about my mom and some of the things I learned from her. One of the biggest was a love for beauty and art. Essential components of the simple life to my mind. Luckily, beauty can be found almost anywhere, and art helps us find and appreciate it. A few moments ago I returned from a walk past the creek and the remaining skunk cabbages and then up the hill and then down to where I could see the bay. By then, I could feel sprinkles on my jacket, small enough not to disturb the warmth inside. I walked past flowers and fresh, green leaves, and a car the color of robin eggs. A simple life is filled with pleasures if we’re inclined to notice.

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    • So beautifully expressed! Each ‘little’ simple thing (skunk cabbages and sprinkles, warm jackets and green leaves and a car the color of robin eggs!) makes our life whole. What a wonderful testament to your mom, too. Mine taught me the beauty and wonder of flowers; our house, growing up, was always full of fresh flowers. I do the same, and now, too, does my daughter. ❤

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  18. Such heart warming story, i like it. i am bird watcher too, waking up in the morning hear bird singing is so wonderful. Sometimes I lay some papaya or banana outside of my porch, the crucuk bird (Pycnonotus) we call here will come to eat it. The other day the crucuk perched on my open window was like asking, “hey where is my breakfast”, since i forget to put papaya there😄

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    • Thanks so much for your comment, fellow bird watcher. The birds in your area are so different from here in the American northeast. Your birds sound exotic and beautiful. I’ve left out some oranges for the Baltimore Oriole, but so far, no takers. 🙂

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      • Thank you for replying, how kind of you to feed them. It must be so rewarding seeing them every day. The most beautiful bird i’ve ever seen is tengek we call here or Halcyion family maybe, with strong silvery blue feather and red chilli beak, i hardly see them in nature anymore. i am happy birds in the trees waking me up every morning😀

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    • I didn’t know that birds building a nest at a front door bring luck, but I’m going to believe it! Miss Muffet has gotten used to our voices (we talk to her from inside the closed door, where a curtain still separates us). Her head swivels toward our voices, and she doesn’t fly off, so I’ve decided that she likes us. 🙂

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  19. How wonderful, Pam, to have a bird nesting in your wreath. We had a similar experience when a couple of birds chose the top of one of our garden spot lights to build a nest. Fearing they would be roasted if someone turned that light on, I tapped it closed for months.

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    • Ouch, to be roasted on a nest would NOT be a good thing. Since Miss Muffet built her nest at our door, we’ve had some chilly (down to 40 degrees F) and windy nights. She looks quite sheltered and comfortable in that nest. I’m hoping her warm body convinces her eggs to hatch soon!

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  20. Oh Pam what a great story and I love how you tie it in to your empty nest. We’ve become bird watchers too – it began during Covid, like everyone else. Now there’s always someone checking out the action at the bird feeder. 🙂

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    • Glad to know we’re not the only ones who have discovered how fascinating birds are. ;-0 🙂 But really, they are incredible! Miss Muffett is still sitting on her nest – still – over two weeks and just waiting waiting patiently. I can’t imagine how hard that would be for a creature used to flying all over the land. Hoping she has success soon. Here’s to empty nesters learning different ways to fill their nests…. ❤

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  21. Even Engineers have heart. I love this story and always love seeing and hearing the birds. I’m going to make a wreath right away for my back door now that faces a courtyard. The front faces an enclosed hallway, hotel style. The backdoor is covered and there are huge trees out there. Right now the high winds are having a field day with them but every morning as the sun rises, I hear the doves coo out there. On occasion, I can hear the humming birds buzz with their unique sound. They love the tall pines. Simple pleasures are the best.

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    • I hope you have success with your homemade wreath, Marlene (and how talented you are to be able to make your own!). The sound of the doves’ cooing is SO soothing. And hummingbirds. They are tiny fairies come to sprinkle magic on your new abode. Enjoy those simple pleasures all around you, my friend. ❤

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  22. This is amazing! It’s not quite a bird’s nest, but I’ve been after a bird bath for my garden for a while now because I love watching the birds so much. Every time I water my plants the worms wiggle to the top of the earth thinking it’s raining, and the birds come down to swoop them. They are fascinating. Thank you for sharing this little heartfelt story!

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    • Hi Georgina. Thanks for visiting my blog! I tried to leave a comment on yours (the post about publicity and the Ukrainian war) but not sure if it came through. I want a bird bath as well! Here in New England, it would freeze in the winter, though. I’d need a heater for it. 🙂

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  23. I love this story, Pam. Maybe a companion book to Birds of Paradise?
    I love watching the bird visitors to our yard. We have some pigeon doves nesting in one of our trees at the moment. We can’t see the nest, but we see them gathering twigs.

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    • Hi Norah! Aha, you’re right! Maybe it’s Bert and Bessie building that nest. If so, I’m so impressed with Bessie, because she’s just sitting so patiently day after day, waiting for her little chicks. I’m a little less patient – when will they hatch?? 🙂 I love the pigeon doves – we have quite a cadre of them here, but I’ve never seen their nests. Perhaps you should follow the twigs. 🙂

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      • I hope you get to see the young ones. I guess the nest is perfectly situated for you to do so. Our tree is too bushy to see much of the nest. I haven’t spotted any of this year’s. In previous years we’ve seen them gather twigs for building, had glimpses of them nesting but never seen the young about. I’d love to see the young.

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    • Oh my gosh, Roy, you’re right. I’ve seen YouTube videos of this kind of thing – cows released into a field and literally dancing with joy. Makes me so sad, the way we treat animals. Here’s to treating animals/birds/all creatures with respect and love.

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  24. Pam, I had the same experience. It was so special to watch Moma, Pop and the babies. I particularly liked when I would catch them trying to encourage the babies to take flight. I received the book and it now winging its way to my sister. Thank you again.

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  25. A loely story Pam. Birdwatching has become a favorite pastime of mine, especially since Covid. I am amazed at their cooperation with one another when there isn’t enough room at the feeder, the way they sit patiently on the nearst branch and wait for me to fill the feeder, and the songs they sing out to me when I am in the yard. ( Probabaly eminding me to not forget to refill the feeder :0) Yep. I’m one of those people!

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    • Well of course we’re both “one of those people,” Becky. No surprise. And yes, my guy and I also watch the birds wait and watch while we fill the bird feeder. It’s pretty darn funny. The woodpecker is a bit more impatient, though. He literally knocks on our deck window when the suet is gone. ;-0 I love how different species find ways to communicate with each other. ❤

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  26. Wonderful post — and I loved the Burroughs quote! So true. We have had a similar situation on our front porch — Eastern Phoebes making messy, muddy nests on the top edges of the columns that hold up the porch roof. We let it go at first, but this year stuffed the spaces with aluminum foil so there was no ledge left. Removing a beginning nest does nothing to deter them. Within an hour, they are back starting again. Definitely persistent!

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    • Our daughter informed us that in this state, it’s illegal to move a working nest. I didn’t know that! I like it – can we all allow Mother Nature and her beings live together, connecting in all ways. . ❤

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  30. Well, your front door and wreath are very inviting. If I were a bird I would have chosen this very spot! Thank you for letting them stay and being their guardian angels while they nest. To be sure you will be rewarded. I thoroughly enjoyed this post and, in fact, it made me a little teary – it was just so sweet. I hope there will be a follow up AND with pictures, please. Bless all of you in your little corner of the world.

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    • Thank you so much for your comment, Linda, and for enjoying my (simple) story of the bird’s nest at our front door. Since I posted this last Friday (8 days ago!) Miss Muffett has sat continually on her nest and finally FINALLY the hatchings hatched this morning. They are so tiny and needy and Miss Muffett is feeding them with such determination and love. It’s amazing to watch. I’ll try to include a photo at next Friday’s post. xo

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  31. Thank you for sharing! I too am finding as I get older (27) I enjoy the little things about nature. Just the other day I was enjoying watching all the lizards around our community jacuzzi sunbathing and chasing after a female

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  33. I used to have a bird feeder that hung right outside my office window. I saw up to 10 different types of birds a day eating from it, including a beautiful speckled woodpecker that was so lg he hung upside down from the bar to feed. It was fun bc the feed would land on his tummy and he would peck it off. 🐦 I stopped putting it out bc I realized my Yorkie was eating the seeds on the ground. I should put it back out since he is no longer here… 😢
    Love the fact you have chosen to care for your little family. ❤️

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    • Birds are so amazing to watch! We don’t have a little dog who eats the bird seed on the ground, but we do have appreciative squirrels and chipmunks who peck at the dropped seed along with the doves. They all get along so well! xo

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  35. Ahhhh I love this post Pam and it is a pleasure to read you again. I am way behind in reading and commenting on your blogs…!!

    I was wondering after the first encounter with birds loving your wreath why perhaps you didn’t keep it up but move it to a wall? And the next season encounter and end result convinced me it would have made sense from a practical point of view.. But I think it’s way cooler than you gave up your front door and regular entrance to your home in order to not disturb the parents and their little ones. Bravo! Just love this.

    Peta

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    • Thanks for reaching out and finding my blog again. I follow your amazing journey and love reading about it all. Me? I’m traveling with the birds as they sit on their nest. 🙂 We considered moving the wreath as soon as we saw them building the nest, but we couldn’t find another place to put it in the porch or any other place in our yard. Everything else was too exposed. We have lots of hawks in the area, and ‘our’ flinches needed to be protected. 🙂 ❤

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  37. What a lovely post, Pam! 🙂 I would be delighted to have birds building the nest on my wreath except mine is not big enough. I do have a nest on top of the trellis on my front porch. One year, the finches built a nest there and have babies. After they were done, I reinforced the nest. I had morning doves that took advantage of it three years in a row to have their babies. I hope we have baby birds again this year.
    My new reward is having butterflies. I raise Monarch butterflies.

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    • Oh! My! Will you send some of your butterflies my way? How do you raise them? This would be a great blog post, Miriam! Two days the eggs hatched, and we have babies. It’s a delight to watch. I love the idea that you reenforced your nest – but we’d have to do that AWAY from the front door – ;-0 🙂

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      • Thank you, Pam. I’ll make a post soon. 2021 was my first year raising butterflies. I did three posts on it about finding a good way of doing it. I did a lot of research also. This year is a lot easier. The first butterfly came back from south early and layed many eggs. I collected the caterpillars. The first butterfly was hatched on Mother’s Day. The second one probably will be hatched today. 🐛🦋

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  38. The beauty of this is in the simplicity of life. The daily hustle and bustle has almost made it impossible for life to be enjoyed. This is beautiful (at least to me) in ways unimaginable.

    I’m also a budding blogger, you can check out my work, I’m sure you’d love it too.

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  39. We had the same experience a few years back only at our back door, which is the one we always use. We were away when the nest building started so by the time we discover it, our new tenets had already set up housekeeping and my porch deck was full of some of my pretty flowers and lots of dirt. Like you, we let them stay because we could not evict them at that time. We did enjoy them and their babies after they were born. The next year we were proactive and set out lots of sweet birdhouses in a tree in the backyard. They come each year and we love them now and I get to take really cute photos of the babies. It’s just another sign of the hope of spring, just when we need it. I’m happy you and hubby let them stay.

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    • Our daughter told us last week that it’s illegal in MA to move a bird’s nest. I wonder if that’s true? Whatever, I’m glad we allowed Miss Muffett to stay. She’s been an amazing mom. However, next year we’ll not use that wreath – it’s been hard without the front door. 🙂

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  40. what a great story Pam. I love your writing style that keeps my interest all the way to the end (unusual for me). Such wonderful lessons of nesting and becoming crazy bird people.. lol
    Our on going discussion is to let them crap on the wall and wash or shoot them down early. They are just too cute so they win, The cats have a job and I an extra one to shoo them. lol
    💖💖

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    • Thanks for the fantastic compliment. I love keeping my readers engaged to the very end. Oh dear (ie, the cats). Fortunately, where our feeders are, no cats are around. Funny, I wrote a sweet children’s story about birds, and some cat lovers said they wouldn’t buy it because the cat is the ‘bad’ one who chases the birds (but that’s what they DO, right?). My second children’s book is about that same cat, Molly, who is a dear. But some bird lovers said they wouldn’t read a story all about a cat. Sigh. Can’t we all just get along? 🙂

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      • You’re so welcome and it’s well deserved. you do a great job with that. oh yes that’s a good thing. Poor Ollie my big fat white cat has to go into the rose bush to try to run up to catch them but good thing cuz she can’t get that high. I think that’s where she’s getting scratched from. sigh is right.. the animal kingdom has it’s own set of rules.. we should interfere. Oh don’t get me started.. 😂😂😂

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