My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thursday Challenge: Construction :-)

While Sheridan certainly isn't suffering from a shortage of perpetual and annoying road construction or the insanely frenzied building of hundreds of new houses (have they not heard about the glut of unsold homes on the market - ours included?!), I felt uninspired by this week's Thursday Challenge:

"CONSTRUCTION" (Business, Residential, Street, Bridge, Sidewalk, Lego Bricks,...)

Until, that is, I remembered having recently spotted and photographed a huge magpie nest, constructed in a dense thicket of hawthorns, while on a hike with the dogs. Now this is some construction I can get excited about! :-)

(click photos for larger versions)

It's hard to get a sense of scale from these photos, but the nest is at least 2½ feet (76 cm) high. And it was definitely occupied! In fact, it was its owner who drew my attention to it when s/he started yelling, "Get off my lawn!" (or the magpie equivalent thereof) at the dogs and me. :-)

This nest, which may or may not have been new since old nests are repaired and reused, was constructed in an old and very thick stand of huge hawthorn bushes. How the magpies manage to ferry sticks and mud to the construction site and build such a large nest in such a tight space without impaling themselves on the wicked thorns that surround it is amazing. But once done, they've got themselves an impenetrable fortress in what I'd call a seriously "gated community!" Click on this photo to get a good look at these fearsome, dagger-like thorns that surround it...

In case you're unfamiliar with the strikingly beautiful black-billed magpie, here is a photo I took several yeas ago of one flying through the ravine below our deck...

While there are many magpies and their nests around our place, I've never watched any engaged in the actual construction process. But I did find a fantastic blog with this post and its series of phenomenal photos of a pair of magpies building their nest, along with fascinating information about both the birds and their nest-building process...
(It sometimes takes me a couple of tries to successfully get that blog post to come up, but it's worth the extra attempt!)

For more takes on this week's "Construction" theme, visit


  1. If you have the eye for it... its always wonderful to see how birds build a nest so different from the other bird...

  2. Wow what a beautiful building! Sometimes I see somethinf lik this, but I never think of making a picture. Stupid me.....

  3. You're so lucky to have magpies in your parts. That is a formidable nest...they are diligent builders. This is a great take on a construction theme!

  4. I agree with you, it took me a while to find the perfect or shall i say nearly perfect photo for the challenge today. But then I guess your post gave justice to this week's challenge. it is construction indeed. thanks for visiting my blog. btw, i love the photo of the flying bird.

  5. In the near of my flat you can see many magpies and other birds.
    Wonderful how the can build there nest,

  6. Laloofah -- I've only seen Magpies west of the Miss. Dont' know anything of their behavior. Always found them very social among themselves. Quite a nest! Thanks -- batbata

  7. A wonderful take on construction. Thanks mega heaps. And you are right about the blog on magpies - truly amazing. Our magpies are different - just black and white, with the most enchanting gurgle as its call. And if you go too close to their nest they dive bomb you (sometimes connecting). Scary when it happens. The local councils often have to put signs up on trees 'Magpies nesting here' to warn people to walk on the other side of the street.
    Sorry I got a bit long winded here.

  8. This is a great post for the theme. I think birds are amazing builders (considering they have limited appendages!). Thanks for that link, too!

  9. Melody ~ That is so cool how you have those musical notes around your name and on your blog header! (Btw, it is hard to believe you didn't pay much for that fun music cabinet! That's perfect for storing your CDs and music DVDs!)

    I agree that it's fascinating to see how different birds build such different nests. One of my favorite bird nests are the hummingbird nests! So soft and tiny.

    Corry ~ No, you're not stupid! I often don't think to photograph certain things till I see them on other people's blogs and have an "Aha!" moment! :-) Now maybe you'll grab your camera next time you see a neat nest and can share it with us.

    Rose ~ We are lucky, I really enjoy them! And they are very diligent builders! I love that the males definitely help out (unlike the mountain bluebird boys! lol), and that a couple will sometimes disagree on a site and so will build two nests before coming to an agreement. Since they mate for life, they obviously have found a way to work this out. :-) I'm glad you enjoyed my somewhat offbeat take on "construction!" (Though I saw at least one other bird's nest post, from India!)

    ruthi ~ I think you absolutely put together an inspired, perfect post for this challenge, and I'm happy that you enjoyed mine, too! I enjoyed my visit to your blogs (I had to visit your "Wheel" post, too!) and appreciate your reciprocal visit! :-)

  10. minoesjka ~ That's great that you are able to enjoy many different birds from your flat! They're fun to watch, aren't they? And I'm always interested to hear about all the different parts of the world that have magpies. Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment!

    Barbara ~ I know, and I was surprised to learn a few years ago that they don't at least live somewhere in New England, since they do live in the UK. Somewhat similar climates, except for NE's cold - but it gets plenty cold out here and the magpies hang around for it! I wonder why they don't find the eastern part of the country to their liking? They are definitely very social birds, and VERY talkative! I love hearing them chatter and burble. Sometimes it seems they're mumbling to themselves. :-)

    E.C. ~ You're most welcome! I was so pleased to see that you and several other visitors took the time to check out that link, and that you enjoyed it. I thought it was very interesting, and that the photos were fantastic! I'm amazed that you have magpies in Australia! I wonder if their "enchanting gurgle" sounds anything like ours' "charming burble." Wish I could hear it. Funny you would mention their dive-bombing anyone who comes near their nests, because when I was looking for magpie graphics for this post I saw a photo of this sign that warns of "Magpies Swooping." I ignored it at the time (though I found it amusing!) since it wasn't what I was looking for, but after seeing your comment I found it again and clicked on it. Since it's on a blog of someone who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where there are no magpies, I looked up Queanbeyan... which as you no doubt already know, is in Australia. So your warning signs there are thrift shop treasures here! (Our magpies don't swoop, they just holler). :-)

    Long-winded? Ha, I'll show you long-winded. LOL You can write as much as you'd like. I enjoy your comments!

    Lesley ~ Thank you! And you're right, they are amazingly dextrous given they just have feet and beaks to work with, and nary an opposable thumb in the crowd. (Wouldn't you like to trade arms and hands for wings now and then though?) :-) You're welcome for the link, I'm glad you liked that post!

  11. Queanbeyan is just down the road from me. Next state, but just down the road nonetheless. Less than 20 kilometres away. And it is a magpie on my header facing off the aggressive corella.
    WV: nestrac LOL

  12. What a great one for the challenge! I gave up with Construction! That is an amazing nest, well captured! By the way, as I am rubbish (as Charlie keeps reminding me) I don't know how to add those 'You Might Also Like...' links at the bottom of my posts. Can you help a blogger in distress please? :O) (It's probably something so simple I am going to smack myself for my own stupidity aren't I?)

  13. Excuse the plethora of exclamation marks in the above, too much caffeine obviously...

  14. E.C. ~ You're kidding! I just happened to come across a sign I wasn't even looking for, from a place that's less than 20km from you? In all this big wide world, what were the chances of that?! Unless that's the only place on Earth with swooping magpies (or at least with swooping magpie warning signs!),... and, frankly, even if it IS... this is an epic coincidence!!

    Ii didn't even recognize that black and white bird scuffling with the Corella as a magpie, s/he looks so different from ours here!

    Barbara (UK) ~ Thank you! I am really glad you appreciate my take on this week's theme, it actually WAS a bit of a Challenge this time (so far they've been too easy and next week is no exception - did you find next week's prompt yet? {grin}), though I can handle "too easy" these days just fine.

    Tell Sir Charles that he must stop dissing you like that, or you'll find reasons to haul his sorry butt to the vet for a change! Here's what you need to sign up for the LinkWIthin feature. There is a link to it at the bottom right of the three random thumbnails (sometimes they're related, sometimes they seem utterly random), but it is VERY wee and faint. I like these things to be discreet, but it's almost too discreet! I'm glad you're going to put this feature on your blog, it will be a fun way to catch up on some of your archived posts I would otherwise miss.

    Hey, I don't even drink caffeine, and I always go overboard on exclamation points. You wouldn't believe how often I have to go back through my posts and comments to tone it down by deleting some! (See, there I go again!) So, no need to apologize to me. :-)

  15. I like the direction you went with the theme! That nest is just amazing, and it's even more amazing that they build it through all of those hazardous thorns!

    I'm off to check the link out. :)

  16. Molly ~ Thanks! I've sometimes wished our were house surrounded by impenetrable hawthorns, but I'd want to build the house first and then plant the hawthorns! LOL

    What did you think of the Feathered Photography blog's post on magpie nesting behavior? I think they're photos are just amazing.

  17. Thanks for the idiot's guide to that link thing. I'll take a look and see if I can get it to work! If not I'll just add a link of my own at the bottom of the post. By the way, meant to say the last time I went to the vets there was a rat there called Talloulah! How great is that?

  18. Barbara ~ You're welcome, and you'll figure it out. If I could, you certainly will! :-) It was easy.

    Talloulah! What a great name for a rat! I had a sweet little rat who lived with me when I was in my 20's, her name was Ratatouille. :-)

  19. The photos are very amazing! I spent some time clicking on several of their pages.

  20. Beautiful constructions made by birds! Great for this theme!

  21. Molly ~ I'm so glad! His photos really are something! Just when I think I've become a pretty good photographer, I'll come across photos like those and think (to quote Barbara in the UK), "Ack, I'm rubbish!" LOL I'd love to be able to take photos like those someday. Gonna take a different camera, some not-yet-acquired knowhow, and a lot more time than I've got now, though!

    Teresa ~ Thank you! I was really pleased to be able to share them for this week's Challenge!

  22. You know I would have had a million ideas for construction but none as fun and clever than this idea!!!

    I loved the photos and the descriptions and my favorite was your reference to the "gated community". That was a perfect description!!!

    I went to the "Fantastic blog" link which was photos of birds - they were gorgeous - but only photos so I don't know what was up with that. I did enjoy the Black Billed Nesting behavior photos. How patient they have to be, building one stick at a time.

    And speaking of construction, ours is supposed to start TODAY! I hope it did - today will be an easy date to remember!!

  23. Jo ~ Yes indeedy, and I was especially eager for you to see this particular post! I figured it would definitely appeal to your civil engineering side. :-) I'm tickled you found my take fun and clever! (There was at least one other Challenge participant - in India - who also submitted a bird nest photo!)

    I'm not sure from whom the magpies feel such a need to protect their nests, but can't imagine any critter being able to infiltrate their barricades!

    I noticed that his photos have no narrative, but guess he figures his pictures are worth a thousand words. Which they mostly are! But I was glad he explained so much about the magpie nest-building photos, and that you were able to take the time to read it! Did you notice that magpies mate for life? And that they squabble sometimes over the location for their nest? LOL I hope construction on Cranberry Lodge did indeed start yesterday, that would be a most auspicious beginning!


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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