About two years ago, the forest, which is practically our backyard, went through a managed deforestation process.* Hundreds of trees were cut. While walking with Mia along the forest, as we often do in the afternoons, I saw a bird house sitting on the fresh stump of a pine tree. Normally it would have been hanging from a tree at about five meters from the ground. I picked it up, looked inside – it was empty – and decided to take it home. It had the letters OVS carved on it.

Petra informed me that the letters stood for Ornithologischer Verein Schwamendingen (The ornithological association of Schwamendingen). We located its director who invited us to his house, not far from ours. We expected an old conservative man but were surprised to meet an open-minded friendly guy in his thirties. He was thankful to us for having rescued the bird house: a well-built abode with a copper roof and pine walls. As a reward for rescuing and returning it, he gifted us with a slighly different (older) bird house. We were thrilled.

We hung it from a tree outside our rear terrace at a safe height -five meters- away from cats. During the first year, a Blaumeise (Eurasian blue tit or Cyanistes caeruleus) made the nest box her home. Weeks later we could hear the newborns screaming for nourishment. It was a pleasure to watch the parents fetch food and bring it back to quiet them.

This year, during winter, we felt it was necessary to do the Swiss thing and clean the bird house for the next tenant. Just when we were getting ready to do it, and without any warning, a squatter occupied it. I watched a newly arrived Blaumeise gathering sticks and straw to build a new nest for the next generation. This Blaumeise could be the same tenant from last year, as they are known, according to Wikipedia, to return to the same hole year after year, and when one pair dies another takes over the flat.

Two days ago, after she had finished the preparations, and when the weather was teasing us with spring, I captured video of the mother going in and out, making sure everything was ready for the new arrivals.

Enjoy the 1-minute film.

*Here is a short film I made about an earlier managed deforestation process.


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