Every year at The Lion & the Rose in early summer the hanging ferns on the front porch become nesting sites for birds.
I first discovered this several years ago as I took down the hanging baskets to water the ferns in the shade of the side garden.
First, you see the nest.
Next, an egg or two will appear in the nest, and eventually the nest will be full of eggs – four or five. Then, within a week or so, the birds hatch and you can see their tiny pulsating bodies huddled together sleeping, waiting for mom to return with food.
I have heard that some people remove the nest when it’s still under construction so that the birds become discouraged and nest some where else. This prevents the nest from “messing up” fern baskets. However, it’s not an option I considered.
If you water the ferns carefully, you can leave the nest and the birds undisturbed and still maintain a healthy plant. Some have warned that once you disturb the nest site, the mother bird will abandon it and her eggs, but this doesn’t happen as long as the nest and eggs remain untouched. What species of Southern highlands bird is nesting in the fern on my front porch – I don’t know and for me it doesn’t matter.
Although it’s a common occurrence and as timeless as life on the planet, the sight of these eggs and baby birds fascinates me. Maybe it’s the chance to get so close to wild, newborn, living things. Or, maybe it’s the connection we all have to birth and life and our need to be reminded of how fragile yet hopeful it is.