Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ahhh...The Country Life

I always enjoyed the story of the town mouse and the country mouse which is based on a fable by Aesop. Many people who enjoy the convenience of city life romanticize the resourcefulness and peace of country living.

There once was a mouse who liked his country house until his cousin came for a visit.

"In the city where I live," his cousin said, "we dine on cheese and fish and bread. Each night my dinner is brought to me. I eat whatever I choose. While you, country cousin, work your paws to the bone for humble crumbs in this humble home. I'm used to finery. To each his own, I see!"

(Read more here)

We took a trip to Luther Marsh which is near the headwaters of the Grand River. The river runs wide through our city but is just a trickle in a farm field a few kilometres north of the marsh. Luther Marsh is a nature sanctuary and no canoes are allowed on the water until after August 31st so the many birds which nest here are not disturbed.

Yellow accents were provided by pussy willow flowers rather than the forsythia bush in my yard. The trails were beautiful and very soggy but biting insects which will swarm the marsh in a few weeks were not around yet.

In a dead stump near the water's edge, a pair of country Chickadees worked furiously making a cavity for a nest. Their skill at creating sawdust was surprising seeing they are not woodpeckers. I never realized until this year that Chickadees are cavity nesters.

Apparently the female selects the nesting site and both birds work diligently to build a softly lined nest. In yesterday's comments, Laura mentioned the lovely moss-lined nests that Chickadees make. I peeked quickly in the "back door" of the box in our yard when the birds were out and sure enough, they have imported a lot of moss.

Our backyard Chickadees have the convenience of a ready-made home but these country birds will be working for several more days before their nest is ready for eggs. I wouldn't be prepared to say that the marsh birds will have a better life than the city birds as we saw plenty of racoon tracks and snake holes in the area. I hope this pair will be secure in their little place.

I found lots of interesting information about Black-capped Chickadees at this site.


  1. Small town life has been a decent compromise for us.

    Is there anything as cute a chickadees?

  2. So THAT'S what the cute little things were!! I saw some chickadees in my backyard yesterday, but at the time didn't know what they were (only that they were different from robins, sparrows, bluejays and cardinals - ultimately the only kinds of birds I know - unless you count the Waterloo geese ;P )

    I immediately went to alert my brother at this new sighting. He asked me what they were. (Crickets in silence). I thought to myself "If Ruth were here..." Har har har. :D

  3. Last spring we had chickadees raise a family in a nest box; when I cleaned the box out in the fall, I found the most intricately woven incredibly soft nest made of moss and horse hair. Rather than a shaped nest, it formed a mattress on the floor of the nest box.

  4. Such a beautiful post Ruth. And how nice to see the chickadees at the marsh and at home. They are adorable.
    I'm definately a country mouse.

  5. This marsh sounds like a great place to visit to see lots of birds.We live in town,but the Chickadees are making a nest in an old tree on the yard.They do have several boxes to choose from.

  6. I live in the city, but will always be a country mouse. The chickadee will never cease to amaze me. I'm so glad that we are so many of them here. I will never tire of this mighty little bird.

  7. Lovely photographs of my favorite bird. I loved the country mouse story when I was a child.

  8. We enjoy the country life 30 minutes from our city - | guess it's the best of both worlds.our chickadees have left for the forest now to nest.

  9. Anonymous7:39 am GMT-4

    The red osier dogwood lining the trail is beautiful. I have never been to Luther Marsh, although I've heard so much about it. Will have to check it out sometime. Those are great Chickadee shots.

  10. It's fun to watch chickadees when they're working on a project.They are one of my favorite birds because they seem as curious about me as I am about them.


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