Several months ago, Denny pulled the cover back from the propane grill one evening and yelled for me to come. There, under the dark green cover, was a beautifully crafted nest tucked in the front cubby, the cubby meant for holding sauces and what-not. Our what-not isn't appealing--mostly ashes and dust.
The nest was woven from strands of bark and mulch with sturdy brown paper and bits of plastic twine. The little center cup would make a soft place for babies, we thought. But how did a bird get under the floor-length canvas cover? And what kind of bird made a nest like that?
After considerable family discussion, the nest was removed and placed nearby in the garden. An active propane grill isn't a good place for raising babies.
Two days later when the cover was pulled back, another nest had taken its place.
The family discussion intensified. How could we in good conscience remove a second nest in spring, when birds are raising young?
Black-crested titmouse? We'd seen one stealing coconut fibers from my hanging basket. Looked a lot like this stuff.
Last year a titmouse raised a family in a neighbor's smoker barrel. We watched one day as the parent flew to the barrel with bugs in beak and dove down the chimney to a peep chorus. The barrel had good acoustics. I've wondered since if the little titmice grew up with higher self-esteem for having amplified cries.
I argued for a titmouse nest and deactivation of the grill. Denny thought otherwise. Then one day he lifted the cover and a cute little field mouse scurried out. Not a rat, a small furry brown mouse. Something a child might want as a pet.
Denny removed five nests before the mouse quit building them. The cubby has held only dust and ashes since. Then, a few days ago, when Denny removed the cover...