Hypothetical quandary of the day: Kick ’em out or let ’em stay?

So, here is another non-hypothetical hypothetical quandary. However, unlike yesterday’s post, I’m pretty sure this bird does not read this blog–so I think it is safe to discuss the bird’s fate here.

And speaking of the bird’s fate, here is today’s quandary…

The pictured bird deserves some congratulations–she is expecting. She build a nest up in the corner of our back door overhang and has been settling in quite nicely.

However, as does happen, every time we take out the garbage or let the dog out into our back yard–the bird swoops out of the nest and perches on a nearby wire and bitches us out royally. Even her mate gets in on the smack talk.

Now I’m a pretty thick-skinned guy, so their hateful tweets do not bother me (too much). Under normal circumstances, I’d say that we’d just work this out: we’ll go out that door as infrequently as possible until the young are born and off on their own.

Here is the rub: we just (before the nest building started) ordered a new custom door and frame that will replace the door right next to the nest. Not only will the door be replaced, but they are knocking out the entire structure around the door. While the overhang and the nest won’t be moved or destroyed, it will be a loud, disruptive, messy mess for a few days.

Because the door had to be custom made (thank you, Petworth builders, for putting in 27 inch doors–nearly impossible to replace easily and cheaply), it will be a few weeks until they are ready to work.

So the quandary: what do I do?

Attempt to evict them now? Wait and see what happens when the door is installed? Call some “expert” for help–if there even is such an expert.

My worry is that while there might be eggs there now (can’t really tell, but she is sitting in there 24/7 now), but when the door comes, there might be little baby birds–and disrupting the mother’s ability to be there might be disastrous.

So, what do you think I should do?

57 Comment

  • leave it alone and let nature takes it course. you can clean it out after the chicks have flown the coup.

  • That’s my nest and I’m staying!!!

  • Please leave it alone. Please please. In a month, the chicks will grow and learn to fly. Please.

  • They’ll likely be gone in a few weeks. Find out what kind of bird it is, check for eggs, then contact an ornithologist (e.g. the Zoo), who can tell you their incubation period and how long it takes for them to fly the nest. This’ll give you a better idea of the time frame that you should delay the work (if you even need to at all).

  • Shouldn’t you be happy that another living thing wants to live in Petworth?

  • Leave them alone and make sure your dog doesn’t pee on this new neighbor’s home too.

  • Usually the babies will hatch and be gone in two weeks so leave them alone. This happened to me when I had to have the roof replaced and the mother stayed right up in her nest tucked under the overhang while the roofers worked around her. Judging by the screeching noises at the crack of dawn the babies were fine.

  • It is an old wives tale that if you touch a nest the mother won’t return? If not, I bet it would be easy to transplant somewhere safe and out of the way.

    I would be more concerned with DCRA finding out you are running a multi-fam.

    • This is awful advice. Do you expect the mother to be able to find the nest after it is moved?

      Leave the nest, check for eggs. They should be hatched and out of the coup in no time.

  • I heard you have some chicks coming to your house. Let me know as soon as they get there.

  • Call the zoo and have them poison any and all feral cats in the neighborhood… STAT!

  • Birds that bitch you out? Must be Blue Jays. The chicks will have flown the coop by mid June, so leave them alone.

    What I’m wondering is if that classic awning is on your house. They’re an endangered species around Petworth and while they’re not to everyone’s taste, I keep hoping that more people will keep the ones they have.

  • Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life

  • Looks like I’m going to be in the minority on this one, but take a hint from best-selling app Angry Birds and realize they don’t like it when you mess with their nests. If that bird already is bitching you out, you’re going to start getting dive-bombed every time you walk out of your backdoor if any chicks come along. It doesn’t tickle when they do that, and pity your poor dog (though if that happens, you might get some Youtube-worthy footage of bird vs. dog).

    And — sad but true — the odds are that any chicks that hatch might not survive a tumble from even that height when they start to venture forth from the nest. There were two years when birds built nests on my 4th-floor gutter. I could have put together an ornithologist’s collection of bird development with the various states of newborn birds that I found dead on my stoop. When they fall, they don’t survive. It’s actually a very sad way to start your day.

    • Mostly, just beware of the lengths to which birds might take things. I’m doubting your door guys are going to tolerate being dive-bombed, so they may administer self-help. Maybe you could slowly migrate the nest someplace more convenient and safe before they show up.

  • I fail to see what is hypothetical about these situations.

    Regardless, I would definitely get rid of that nest ASAP.

  • There is a bluejay in residence on V Street that likes to swoop down and land on my dog as she is taking her morning piss.. It was funny the first few times, but now it actually terrifies me as well as the ladydog.

    That being said I’d leave the nest, because karma, especially at the hands of a bird, is a bitch.

  • Gentrifier! How many more will you force from their homes??

  • I think it’s really kind of you to be concerned, unlike NotHere. I think I’m with those who say leave them alone and just see what happens. Tell the workers to try to be quiet, if possible. Maybe do a little online research?

  • Just let things happen. You don’t have to tell neighbors what happened to their home and you don’t have to do anything to these birds. They settled down there, so they should deal with consequences and its not up to you to intervene.

  • Birds often return to the same spot to nest so if you don’t enjoy the feces/feather leftovers (similar to santorum but less frothy) on your porch I would suggest being vigilant next spring: keep the door closed, shoo them away before they have a chance to build a nest. or get a catpossum.

  • So the doors are being custom made by a contractor who indicated it would take a “few” weeks. These birds are safe for two months. Leave them be. 😉

  • If the birds are native species to the US, under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act I believe it is illegal for you to disturb the nest while there are eggs or baby birds, punishable by up to $500 fine or 6 months in jail per offense on a strict liability basis. Of course, no one will know other than people who use the internet but I would leave the nest alone nonetheless.

  • make an omelet with the eggs and bbq the birds. easy, done.

  • If it takes several weeks for the doors to be ready, the birds will likely be gone by then. We had Robins hatch on our front porch last year. They were back this year — the first pair already gone, but a new pair set up a nest in another corner.
    At first I was concerned there would be feces/feathers all over the porch, but that wasn’t the case — maybe it’s just Robins, but there was hardly any mess left behind.
    Plus, it was actually fun watching little hungry birdies demanding food at dinner time xD
    I would say keep them.

  • Emmaleigh504

    I don’t particularly like birds, so I’m in the human comes first camp on this one.

  • Get a cat…

  • I’m dealing with the same issue except they are in my gutters blocking the drainage pipe. 🙁

  • The most important thing is to determine what kind of birds these are. If you can identify them as an indigenous North American species, please do all that you can to avoid disturbing them, etc.

    On the other hand, if they are an introduced, invasive species, don’t worry if you disturb them. They are most likely European Starlings, or House Sparrows, neither of which belong here, and take away resources and nesting sites from indigenous species.

  • This is absolutely true, and most of the popular local bird species are on the protected list.

    “The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 makes it unlawful to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill or sell birds listed therein (“migratory birds”). The statute does not discriminate between live or dead birds and also grants full protection to any bird parts including feathers, eggs and nests.”

    What kind of bird are you dealing with? From the photos it looks like you may have a Northern Mockingbird, which are protected by the statute.

    • I work as a state biologist and have to agree with Mr. T. I’m about 99% sure that you have a nesting house sparrow, which is an invasive species not protected by any law. Ecologically speaking, destroying the nest would be actually be a good thing. It may feel a little heartless, but it’s for the greater good!

      (I’m basing this ID on that unmistakable fat sparrow beak, and the fact that house sparrows make up a huge proportion of the birds in DC. But if you have another photo or a description we can give a more positive ID).

  • Hateful tweets? How in the hell did you ever find them on Twitter? Especially if they’re mooching off your WiFi to post these tweets.

  • We were all worried about the baby phoebes in a nest in our porch rafters until our cats solved the problem for us.

  • These birds are starlings, no doubt, which are trash birds. Sweep ’em and their chicks out. We could do with fewer starlings.

  • Goodness, what’s with you interrupting happy homes???? Good LORD get it together

    • They find every nook and cranny in the eave, roof, gutter, whatever, and make a mess. And don’t help with the rent. Then they have the gall to yell at me when I’m in MY yard. Get rid of ’em, I say. Sorta reminds me of my teenagers, come to think of it.

  • mini omelet?

  • I worry about the birds, but is it awful of me to ask who you are getting your door from? I’m looking for contractors for the same kind of project …

  • Mocking Birds sing their hearts out,
    and make good temporary tenants.

    Six month lease through Summer with no subletting.

    Security deposit waived.

  • Are bb guns legal in DC?

    • Sort of, but you need advance written permission from the Chief of Police to fire it.

      Non-Powder Guns

      The District of Columbia generally prohibits the possession or carrying outside any building of an air rifle, air gun, air pistol, B-B gun or any similar type gun.164 A person may use an air rifle, air gun, air pistol or B-B gun if such use is supervised by a person age 18 or older, for:

      A theatrical performance or athletic contest;

      A licensed shooting gallery; or

      Use at other locations where the use of such guns is authorized by the Chief of Police.165

      Persons age 18 or older may transport an air rifle, air gun, air pistol or B-B gun within the District if unloaded and securely wrapped.166

      The District also prohibits the sale or other transfer to any person under age 18 of an air rifle, air gun, air pistol, B-B gun or a similar type of gun, or ammunition therefor.167 Such transfers are lawful if supervised by a person age 18 or older for:

      A theatrical performance or athletic contest;

      A licensed shooting gallery; or

      Transfer at other locations where the use of the item is authorized by the Chief.168

  • I had a similar situation a few weeks ago! Two robins built a nest on the ledge above a door that goes from my condo directly to the outside. It was fine at first, but then the mama robin was nesting and keeping her eggs warm, every time someone would walk past the door, she would fly out and then swoop directly at the person’s face. Basically, the bird got so aggressive defending her nest people were too scared to walk by. Sadly, my neighbors were complaining about the bird so I had to remove the nest.

    Within a few days, the bird had re-built part of a new nest. Once I removed the nest a second time, they finally stayed away.

    If the birds would have not gotten so aggressive, I would have been happy to have them. Alas, they were bonkers and had to go.

  • Two most common non-native species:

    House sparrow: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/House_Sparrow/id

    Starling: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/European_Starling/id

    As A Biologist stated, if it’s either of these two you shouldn’t feel guilty about getting rid of the nest and keeping them from rebuilding (which they might try to do).

    If it’s anything else let the nest be – our native birds have a hard enough time as it is (with feral cats, loss of habitat, introduced diseases…), besides the fact that it is a crime to mess with any of our native bird species, as others have already pointed out. Besides, birds develop really fast — they will have left the nest by the time your door arrives.

  • I had the same problem with a nest in my porch roof eaves. Like many others I only noticed when I began to get divebombed by the mother bird when I entered my house. I should mention that, thanks to Mr. Afred Hitchcock, I am deathly phobic about birds – can’t stand them near me. I tried checking for eggs and only realized there were some when the nest fell on the porch and the eggs broke, so I guess I committed a crime (I think the birds were robins, but I can’t be sure). However, I barely touched the nest when it fell, so clearly it was a bad location. The birds tried to rebuild the next year, and I got rid of the nest prior to any bird eggs being laid; they haven’t been back.

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