Being thankful

Thanks for this day, for all birds safe in their nests, for whatever this is, for life.
Barbara Kingsolver (2008). “Prodigal Summer

I’m thankful. For my life, the fact that I’m alive, for small triumphs in adversity, for peace and plenty (not merely ‘enough’). I’m thankful that in my small circle of life I have lost no friends or family to rampaging lunatics, or fanatics, or war, or disease, poverty or desperation. I’m thankful for independence, bodily and legal autonomy, for peace and modest happiness. I’m thankful for abundant green life, for sunshine, rain, and the beautiful earth.

And the birds.

What a privilege it is to watch this tiny master builder constructing its extraordinary nest. It’s over 30cm (a foot) long, and the bird’s barely 5cm/2 inches.

This nest is literally 50cm/20 inches from our door onto the back deck. Despite the regular comings and goings of ourselves and Mouse, the bird has simply ignored us as though we weren’t there and plugged on with its enormous task.

I’ve put out some offerings, and am truly touched and honoured that some have been accepted. He hasn’t gone for the dryer fluff, residue from the Husband’s cotton singlets. He’s had a bit of dog hair, but not much. By far his favourite nesting material has been my colourful thread ends, which are hopefully lining the nest – the clump at bottom left disappeared overnight. Since the nest is fully under cover, I didn’t worry about the cotton fibre absorbing too much moisture and staying soggy.

He flies to and from from the backyard with bits of vegetable fibre, fragments of dead leaf, bits of spider web and so on. The whole world is his salvage yard, and he is the ultimate artist/ sculptor/ builder/ architect/ homesteader.

I have a lot to be grateful for, including the time to watch and marvel.

64 thoughts on “Being thankful

  1. I’m a fan of Barbara Kingsolver, and love the quote.We can only hope to be so resourceful and creative as your Sun Bird, as trusting, and as canny at picking the best place to call home and the people we spend time amongst.

  2. tialys says:

    What a lovely, uplifting post to read on a Sunday morning. Thank you for that. xx

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m so glad you like it! I was absolutely charmed and enthralled when I realised that Mr Sunbird had decided to re-construct rather than de-construct the nest. It was such a surprise, being slap bang beside the back door. I thought I’d make good use of the contents of my thread-catcher, and he appears to agree 🙂

  3. cedar51 says:

    That nest and it’s builder are so amazing – and so close your home. I wonder what the inside of the nest will look like when the family have been raised and flown away – it certainly looks intricate and delicate – but also solid and welcoming. May there be joyful times during the coming months…

  4. Going Batty in Wales says:

    That is a lovely post Kate. How fantastic to have him so close.

  5. Wow! How wonderful. Thank you for sharing. ❤

  6. Emmely says:

    What an interesting nest shape.

  7. Caroline says:

    that’s incredible and you’re so lucky to get a grandstand seat

  8. Bear says:

    It is a joy to watch the little birdies build their nests. I put out a plate of my thread orts and scrappies of yarn every spring for them. the plate miraculously empties in only a few hours. Not to worry, I always have more.

  9. Chris S in Canada says:

    Thank you for this post, especially on a Sunday morning. I do my best to say my thanks every day for my blessings. This just amplified everything for me. How joyful to have a front row seat as you do! Would love updates on the nest and family as things progress.

  10. Dayphoto says:

    What a fun post. Like you I am so grateful to be alive and to be able to enjoy those around me.

  11. I love this! Gratitude got me through the darkest time in my life, and yet I find myself getting whiny lately, when things aren’t nearly that bad. Today I am grateful for the sunshine and a long weekend!

  12. how wonderful that he has chosen you to move in with. I wouldn’t get anything done and just sit and watch the comings and goings. Hopefully there will be a family to watch and take flight. You will have to share more pictures.

  13. Beautifully written. Thank you for this reminder.

  14. Nancy says:

    Oh, how wonderful–thrilling, really!– to have a bird build a nest under cover of your deck while you can watch! And such a beautiful nest it is. What kind of bird is it? Do you know if the bird will return next season to reuse it? And if not, will you investigate it a little further to see how it used your offerings?

    • katechiconi says:

      They are Olive-Backed Sunbirds (aka Yellow Bellied Sunbirds). The birds don’t usually return to the same nest, but different pairs will sometimes rob the materials for a new nest, or refurbish an existing abandoned nest. If they decide not to use it, which does happen, I will give it a good time and then check the interior for colour!

  15. anne54 says:

    I have so much to be grateful for too. Thank you for this lovely reminder to stop and give thanks. The nest is definitely a scrap happy project, recycling at it’s best.

    • katechiconi says:

      It really is a ScrapHappy nest – but a lot messier than I’d like in the execution! Still, I’ll leave the scattered debris in peace until I know if they’re going to stay and use it.

  16. This is a lovely post, Kate. We all have something to be grateful for. I’m so impressed with nest-makers: They’re clever, industrious, artistic yet practical, and in the end, they’re making the perfect home for off-spring they’ve never met. Thanks for sharing.

    • katechiconi says:

      Nests have always fascinated me, even the ones that are just a scrape in the ground. These are wonderful, for the sheer volume of work, the intricacy of that work, and the durability of the thing after they’ve left. We had one before that survived a cyclone!

      • I agree with all you’ve said. That something so small can create such a magnificent nest to nurture and raise a family is really something to behold.

      • katechiconi says:

        Not only that, but stop once it’s done, decide it’s not quite good enough and bustle off to do the whole thing again somewhere else, which is quite common!

      • Yes! Isn’t that something. We had a nest on top of the folded patio drapes earlier this year. Mama bird came, then left. A few weeks later she came back, added to it, then left again. I kept those drapes in that folded position for sometime, before finally climbing on a footstool to be sure the nest was empty. I guess we didn’t make the cut.

      • katechiconi says:

        I would not be surprised if we don’t either. It’s so very close to the back door, I could just reach out and touch it if I wanted to. Not a safe environment for a tiny bird to raise her babies, even if my intentions are the best.

  17. As Paul Newman said in The Sting, “I like your attitude, baby.”

  18. Lucy Pearson says:

    We have so much to be thankful for in this beautiful country of ours – not a day goes by when I don’t thank my lucky stars I get to live here. I’ve been meaning to read Barbara Kingsolver for yonks – but not yet got around to it. Do you have a favourite of hers? xxx

    • katechiconi says:

      Hello, my lovely! I hope you’re surviving OK down there. My absolute favourite BK is non-fiction: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It’s about how she and her family tried to eat only locally grown/raised food for a year, and the challenges it presented. She writes so well…

  19. How much can we learn from nature . We have so so much to be thankful for today & everyday.

  20. knitnkwilt says:

    That is just amazing, so close to a frequently used door! They are almost tame.

  21. kymlucas says:

    The birds in our yard also bring much joy, especially in winter. For my mother who was, and is again, unable to have visitors due to COVID, they are a godsend, so we keep her feeders full. Unfortunately for us, our viewing pleasure has been curtailed due to several clever squirrels. Every few years, there is one or two who figure out how to get around our “squirrel-proof” baffles and the thin wire hangers on our feeders. We’ve had to quit feeding for a while in the hope they’ll give up and move elsewhere. Since our yard is full of nut trees, they are just being contrary by eating our bird seed.

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s a pity birds and squirrels share the same tastes. There’s no ecological equivalent here; our possums are larger, and sugar gliders eat mainly insects, pollen and only occasionally nuts. The worst offenders would be the bird-world bullies like sulphur-crested cockatoos, rosellas and perhaps galahs.

  22. Beautifully said, Kate. I say a prayer like that several times a day. Full of gratitude for the abundance in life, big and small. I’m always grateful when I wake to see another day and the mysteries that will unfold in it. Nature teaches so much about the wonder of the smallest things. This is helping me keep it all in proper perspective. I’m going to collect my threads and put them under the trees now. Thank you for all of this. Everything in it’s right time.

  23. It looks like my house! Messy at first glance, but welcoming and comfortable inside. 🙂

    Thank you for this lovely post, and I loved reading all the positive comments of your readers as well. Balm to my stressed spirit.

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