Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Burgers and Birds

My guy and I like to grill out now and then. Neither of us are grillmasters, but every couple of weeks we'll throw some burgers or chops or kabobs on a small gas Char-Broil we keep in the back yard. It's nothing fancy, and it's getting pretty old now, but it still gets the job done:



Bad weather kept us from grilling out over Memorial Day weekend, so tonight I decided to cook up some burgers for a belated celebration. I went out with my guy to prep the grill, which we first move to the center of the yard because we live in a wood-frame house and I'd rather not set it on fire. As my guy rolled the grill away from the wall, something small, red-breasted and fast flew out from under it.

"Uh, honey," I said. "A bird just flew out of there."

He looked at me. "What's a bird doing . . . " He looked at the grill, which we haven't used for at least a month. "Oh, no."

"Lift the lid and check," I suggested.

And he did. Then he said a lot of words I'd rather not repeat because our daughter is probably reading this. When he was done making his observations about the intelligence of certain lower orders, I told him I'd get the camera, because no one was going to believe this without proof.



At first we couldn't figure out how she built the nest under the grill rack -- the spaces between the bars seemed to narrow for her to fit through, and it was way too heavy for her to dislodge. Then I looked at the underside, where there are a couple of bird-size holes rusted through the base of the grill. Somehow she flew under and in through this labyrinth of holes in order to build the nest.



The grill's ignition switch stopped working about two years ago; before then my guy used to light it without first lifting the lid. Fortunately now he has to lift the lid first and look as he turns on the gas and lights the heating element with a lighter, so even if I hadn't seen the mother fly out, the nest wouldn't have been toast. Lucky for her.

This time I just cannot fathom this choice. That grill is black metal, and I know it has to get extremely hot inside during the day. It reeks of gas and burnt things. During the first day of bird school, doesn't anyone point to a grill and say, "Never ever ever nest in that"?

I didn't get a good enough look at the mother to identify the bird, but from the size and color of the eggs I'm guessing another type of wren. And if all five of these hatch, I think that will make a grand total of eighteen babies born this spring (five wrens from the potted plant, four mourning doves from the nest between the bird houses, and four cardinals who just hatched in the hanging sweet potato vine -- photos of the newborns are over at the Photoblog today, btw.)

Looks like we'll be grilling indoors with the stovetop grill pan for the next month or so. I'm also expecting Animal Planet to call any day now and offer me my own show. Maybe I'll call it Ditzy Birds and Dumb Nesting Places.

27 comments:

  1. At least it's just been birds so far. Friend of mine - after a particularly long cold winter with no outdoor grilling - rolled out the barby over the May long weekend, opened the lid, and became uncomfortably acquainted with a nest of rats.

    [shudder]

    — Bonz

    ReplyDelete
  2. you sure you don't have 5 hard boiled eggs there?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Listen, birds know when they've got a good thing going, and it's obvious that word has gotten around that your place is THE place to raise babies. You're like a bird's human version of June Cleaver/Donna Reed.

    ReplyDelete
  4. And a partridge in a pear tree! I'd say unbelievable, but considering the spring you've had, it fits. You are single-handedly increasing the avian population. (You are keeping your windows closed, right? Otherwise they'll be in your office next.)

    ReplyDelete
  5. We returned from a 10 trip to find a nest in our grill sans any eggs so we cleaned it out and used it. The next day the nest was rebuilt. Again we cleaned it out and this time we left the grill open. No new nests. We definitely need to put out more bird houses. We could not understand why the birds liked the grill so much it was under a covered porch and we grill quite often.

    The bird traffic was driving our 3 cats crazy :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Too funny. I have to agree with Marjorie. Word is out and the grapevine is 'atwitter' with the news. Just like a B&B, they're all 'homing' in on your yard.

    Okay, I'll stop with the bad puns. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'd say you've got the perfect excuse to replace the bird house--er--grill.

    ReplyDelete
  8. That happened in our grill when I was in Jr High. My dad had seen the birds flying in and out through the air holes in the sides of the lid, and kept trying to shoo the bird away.

    Finally, he lit the grill and sent the dumb bird flying out of there at warp speed. The bird was trying to make a nest on top of the grates and hadn't laid eggs yet. So she was scared out of her mind, but not actually hurt (her nest went up in flames soon after though). And she came back the next year for a re-do. We saw the early stages of the nest, and burned those too. And bought a grill-cover.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Your place is truly bird central! I saw a video once of huge beehive that had been built in a grill, and my dog always used to lay under ours, but this tops both of those. Your thoughts are exactly like mine, wondering how it didn't get too hot in there for her.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Ever feel like the Pied Piper of birds? I wonder if scarecrows would work, or if you set up those big fake owls, that might scare them away. I know it worked on my dad when he first saw mine. He thought it was real!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I swear to you...whoever designed that grill was being paid under the table by the Secret Bird Council or something.

    I have owned that exact model, and had birds nest in it time and time again. A former roommate also bought that grill, and guess what? Yup. BIRD HEAVEN.

    More recently, wasps started inhabiting mine, though. That was pretty much the last straw (no pun intended, Secret Bird Council) and we dismantled and ditched it.

    Makes me want to go to Home Depot and write on the boxes of those grills: "WARNING: MAY CONTAIN BIRDS AT SOME POINT. MAYBE."

    ReplyDelete
  12. You might as well have a sign made that says "Bird Haven"....or maybe "Nests R Us....or how about "Hatchlings Haven". Heh...that would be cute, actually. I think it's awesome you've had some many nests there this spring.

    ReplyDelete
  13. It's a good thing you're taking pictures Lynn. I just know there's a book deal in this. Maybe a children's story? I don't think you've written in that genre yet. (BTW, now my 5yo wants to know why birds haven't built a nest in our grill.)

    ReplyDelete
  14. You are The Bird Whisperer.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Man you have the worst luck with these birds.. Seems like you have St. Francis of Assisi syndrome when it comes to those of the fowl genus..lol

    Just becareful if you see thousands of seaguls headed your way run for the nearest telephone booth..lol

    ReplyDelete
  16. *Grin* I have an American Kestrel that might be able to "convince" those birds that nesting in those spots are not a good idea. =)

    ReplyDelete
  17. I love birds but hate the white crap that they leave on the car and lawn furniture! : )


    PS
    Question - I have the opportunity to make a twelve minute appointment with either an editor or agent. Yes, I have a complete manuscript and I think it's well worth pitching. Which is the wiser choice, in your opinion?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Emy wrote: you sure you don't have 5 hard boiled eggs there?Pretty positive. It's been raining here pretty steadily for the last two weeks, and the temperatures have remained mild. Last night we also rolled the grill over under one of our big oak trees that will keep it shaded from too much sun. I'd relocate the nest but I'm afraid the mom will abandon it.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Charlene wrote: You are keeping your windows closed, right?

    Oh, yes. At this point I'm checking the exhaust pipes of the trucks and the car every time I walk outside. We do have to check the attic this weekend, though. We have a series of staggered, sharply peaked roofs that are vented, and I want to make sure the vent mesh is still in place. If they nest in there it's just a swoop down through an open access panel (we keep one open to draw heat from the garage) and then they'll be in the house.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Eugenia wrote: Ever feel like the Pied Piper of birds?

    Well, my daughter plays the flute, maybe it's her. :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Stephanie wrote: I have owned that exact model, and had birds nest in it time and time again. A former roommate also bought that grill, and guess what? Yup. BIRD HEAVEN.

    Thank goodness, I was starting to feel like Tippi Hedren. Maybe I should write to Char-Broil and send them pics. :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Kristi wrote: We saw the early stages of the nest, and burned those too. And bought a grill-cover.

    The grill cover is a great idea -- I will definitely be investing in one of those once this batch grows up and takes off.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Rosyln wrote: I just know there's a book deal in this. Maybe a children's story? I don't think you've written in that genre yet.

    I was actually the secretary for an author of a Little Golden Book many years ago, but all the kids stories I've written I've not tried to publish. Would make a funny book, especially with all the pictures I have now to pass on to a proper illustrator.

    (BTW, now my 5yo wants to know why birds haven't built a nest in our grill.)

    Lol. Maybe because your birds have more brains than mine?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Little Bits wrote: Question - I have the opportunity to make a twelve minute appointment with either an editor or agent. Yes, I have a complete manuscript and I think it's well worth pitching. Which is the wiser choice, in your opinion?

    If it were me, I'd pitch to an agent, as an agent who signs you can get your manuscript in front of a lot of different editors. When you pitch an editor, you're only getting that one shot.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I agree with you about the agent. My hubby has one for is children's book illustration and she's been a godsend!
    Thanks for the advice!

    PS. My blog is now about the fact that I am finishing a novel in six days for said agent appointment. My blog is Wifeofmonobot.blogspot.com. Come check it out - you're mentioned as being 'lovely', I believe. : )

    ReplyDelete
  26. THANK goodness you hadn't lit the bbq, and had seen a bird fly in. It's amazing the odd spots birds decide to build their little homes. I once had a bird build a nest in the area between the engine and windshield of my car...in the span of 2 weeks! I was stuck in the house with two broken legs and hadn't been out to the car for over 2 weeks....loe and behold a nest was built!

    ReplyDelete