debris on patio table
Who left such a mess on my patio table?

They don't call them 'birdbrains' for nothing!

| I came home from the long-weekend SuperBowl trip to find my patio table covered with stones, sand, grass, and other debris. (Update: Caught in the act)

This is not the first time this has happened. In fact, it happened almost exactly one year ago. And the culprit again is a stupid bird that tries to build a nest of stones on the blade of the overhead fan.

nest on fan blade
Nest of stones and grass on the fan blade

I wish I knew what kind of bird does this. It's obviously a fairly large bird, judging by the size of the stones.

compared to a quarter
Stones, also clumps of sand/dirt
compared to a quarter
Two of the larger stones

While most of the stones are fairly small, others are quite large, with their largest dimension nearly the diameter of a quarter.

For sure it's not a hummingbird. I know what those nests look like and they are small, delicate things usually built in the fork of a branch or on some structure that gives a solid foundation.

My best guess is that it might be a mockingbird. They are fearless and don't mind building their nests near humans. They're also big enough to carry the stuff up to the fan. But I have been able to find nothing that suggests mockingbirds make such extensive use of stones. Also, mockingbirds strike me as smarter than this!

The other common bird of sufficient size is the common pidgeon. Great flocks of them are everywhere. But I always see them perching on high places, like rooftops, not coming into a confined space like the solid ceiling of a pergola.

Suffice it to say, I've never seen an actual bird anywhere near these nesting attempts.

But I do know how to get rid of them: run the fan!

Update: Caught in the act

Aha! I have seen the bird trying to build the nest, and I think I know what kind of bird it is.

Close up of the nest itself
Close-up view of the nest itself. Very messy. Very precarious. Looks very uncomfortable for raising babies.
bird building the nest
Bird caught in the act of building the nest. Holding arge pebble in its beak, along with a bit of string or grass. Ruff-colored underparts, Wing markings. Lighter throat. Rounded off tail.

 

Say's phoebe
Say's phoebe (Photo from All About Birds  [Cornell]).

According to the site All About Birds (Cornell Lab of Ornithology), the Say's Phoebe is common around people and found from Alaska to Mexico. It is described as follows:

Its nest is "an open cup of rocks, weed stems, grass, plant fibers, spider webs and other items, lined with hair, fibers, paper, or feathers. Placed on a ledge with cover, such as in a cave, or on a building or bridge.

Seems like a pretty good match!

Last updated on Apr 29, 2016

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