Will these eggs hatch?
April 12, 2011 3:43 PM   Subscribe

Some bird built a nest in the center of the wreath hanging from our front door. Can the nest be saved by moving the wreath?

So, again this year some dumbass bird built a nest in the center of the wreath hanging from our front door. (This happened a couple of years ago and we didn't discover it until we were taking the wreath down and one of the eggs fell out and broke open. Bird embryo all over the porch. Bleah.) There are three small whitish eggs inside the nest.

My husband is currently driving a hook into the wall next to the door in hopes of moving the wreath and preserving the nest, but I'm dubious that it will work.

There is significant daily traffic on the porch, opening and closing the door: us going out in the morning and coming back in the afternoon, the mailman & UPS guy making daily-ish stops, plus anyone else who comes by in the evening (or us going out), so using the back door isn't really a realistic option.

That being said, there is only probably a half-hour worth of actual traffic on the porch on any given day. If the nest can be preserved I'd be happy to do what it takes. But will moving the wreath with the nest inside it help at all? (Wouldn't you be alarmed if your home moved three feet to the left?) Or are the eggs not viable anyhow because no mom is sitting on them 24/7?
posted by anastasiav to Pets & Animals (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Here's a photo of the nest taken through the window on our front door.

A few minutes after I posted this, I noticed a bird fly away from the nest as I walked through the front hall, so clearly the birds are still paying attention to the nest despite the door banging open and shut a few times today.
posted by anastasiav at 4:03 PM on April 12, 2011

Move it! And update...
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:15 PM on April 12, 2011

If you move the nest, it is very likely that the bird will abandon it.

Birds that deal with humans (live near houses and such), are used to disturbances and and other problems that the humans create. Daily movement through the door probably will not bother them too much. They built the nest and laid the eggs dealing with the disturbances.

If you want to save the birds, you better bet is to secure the wreath better, be gentle with the door, and hope the hatchlings grow up on your door.
posted by Flood at 4:31 PM on April 12, 2011

anecdotally, we had an awesome view of a bird nest in front of our picture window that we were able to observe from two eggs to a several week old cute fluffy, feathery peeping baby birds with the flitty mother bird lovingly sitting with them during the night and flying back and forth during the day with food.

one day we came home, the nest was in several pieces strewn on the driveway, the bush was awry and the birds were no where to be seen.

A terrifying death by cat(s), is my guess.

lesson? I guess if you can make some type of safeguard against neighborhood cats, the birds-to-be wont die a horrific death.
posted by edman at 4:33 PM on April 12, 2011

I think moving it not too far (from door to nearby wall - how many feet?) might work. I've read where people have moved nests with success. But birds are flighty (ha!) and there's no telling how these particular birds will take a move.
posted by deborah at 4:43 PM on April 12, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the comments so far. Cats are not a concern, I don't think - we do have neighboorhood cats but none have ever been so bold as to come up on our porch. Even if they did, they'd have a heck of time getting at the nest, as its five feet straight up an utterly flat wall.

If we move it, we would be moving it about twenty inches to the left - and moving the whole wreath, hanger and all. While its now clear the birds are still tending the nest, I'd hate to have the postman open the door (as he must to deliver our mail) and unwittingly knock a fledgling out.
posted by anastasiav at 4:56 PM on April 12, 2011

They don't start sitting on the nest until they have a full clutch of eggs (one egg per day... probably four to six eggs depending on the type of bird). The bird can leave the eggs uncovered for five to ten minutes after they start incubating, so from that side of things walking through the door is fine.

Is it possible to have mail left on the porch? What about if you put a sign on the door about being careful of the nest?

You might want to figure out what kind of birds they are, since some birds can become aggressive about their nests...
posted by anaelith at 5:02 PM on April 12, 2011

Here's the thing: if you do nothing, the nest is doomed. Given that you can't just cede use of that door for two weeks to a month.

You want to do something right now, before the eggs hatch. If the mother isn't sitting on them yet, that means they aren't yet a "clutch" in her mind. Birds can only lay one egg a day, so they do that until they have enough eggs. Once they have enough eggs, it's considered a clutch, and she will start sitting on it to incubate them.

Which is to say, what you have right now is a bunch of eggs. You could even crack them and make a very small omelet if you wanted. No great loss if the mother abandons them. Most species, if it's early enough in their season, will just go build another nest and start laying eggs into it. (This is basically the process by which we get eggs for the grocery store.)

But within 24-36 hours, you could have a somewhat trapped mother bird, and a bunch of baby (fetal) birds. That's no good.

Realistically, it's probably best to just trash the nest and the eggs and remember to take that wreath down sooner in the year. The likelihood that the birds will hatch and grow and fledge beside your door without any problems is low.

But me? I'm a big softie. I would go outside and move the wreath right now, and keep my fingers crossed.
posted by ErikaB at 5:34 PM on April 12, 2011

Not to add to your concerns but 5 ft up a wall is nothing for a cat, mine can do 8ft no worries. And they would be particularly motivated by a helpless nestful of cheeping babies at night where there's nothing to scare them away. I'm just sayin'...
posted by Jubey at 5:53 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I didn't think cats were a problem in my neighborhood, as we have dogs behind a gate 5 feet away from the nest, and two gated dogs on both our neighbors. Coupled by the fact we haven't seen wandering cats for years around our house... but still.. the heartbreaking scene was layed out. (though, its possible it was a wandering dog..)

I like to kid myself that they had flown away..
posted by edman at 6:06 PM on April 12, 2011

move it incrementally over the course of a couple of days, a few inches every hour or so...carefully
posted by tomswift at 6:07 PM on April 12, 2011

I typically like to go with the easy answer in these sort of situations*, and in this case, my thought would be to leave the nest be, put a note above it or below it to warn the mailman, and be careful with the door. The bird made her choice, who are we to intervene? Let mother nature do what she's gonna do.

*Note that this strategy has also led to me inadvertently allow a family of squirrels to ruin the flooring surface of my balcony, so your milage may vary. Cute squirrels though!
posted by cgg at 6:15 PM on April 12, 2011

one day we came home, the nest was in several pieces strewn on the driveway, the bush was awry and the birds were no where to be seen.

Scrub Jay would be my guess.
posted by banshee at 11:37 AM on April 14, 2011

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