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Lange: Mazie

07/21/11 7:55AM By Willem Lange
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(HOST) Commentator Willem Lange is always ready to lend a helping hand, even when it puts a bit of a crimp in his own plans.

(LANGE) Every summer this place becomes a rookery. There are robins' nests everywhere - in the acute angles between the main roof and the shed roofs, on top of any casement windows left open, and anywhere in the framing of the garage. The phoebes are more circumspect: they nest high up in the soffit of the garage, clean up after themselves, and eat bugs. We take it as a compliment that nervous birds find us safe to be around. But those nests up between the roofs are perched on a 45-degree angle, which invites calamity.

They also put a crimp in my activities. I've got to keep an eye out for Ming the Merciless, the broad-winged hawk who swings by now and then looking for groceries. And when I step off the porch, there's a squawk over my head as a robin leaves her nest up under the eaves. A couple of weeks ago that nest came down when the babies got a little heavy for the friction holding it to the shingles. One was dead; two were shivering in the cold. I got a ladder, screwed an empty basket up on the wall next to where the nest had been, put the survivors into it, and hoped for the best. I don't think it worked. I've got to get back up there and check.

Every year we name the dumbest robin Mazie, after Doctor Seuss's famous avian idiot in Horton Hatches an Egg. This year the robin with the falling nest gets the award. Just after the first calamity, she switched to the garage, way back against the rear wall. I went in to get my eight-foot ladder, and there was her nest full of eggs right on top of it.

Down in the shop, I made her a nice plywood platform with a wrought-iron support, screwed it up beside the ladder, and shifted the nest. She took to it and raised three kids there. I waited till they were fledged before putting any more siding on the garage. Finally, after many squawkings and misadventures - one of the kids landed in an empty trash can on his maiden flight and had to be rescued - they were gone. Hallelujah! But I left the nesting platform where it was; robins have three broods per summer around here.

Yesterday I went to the garage to get my big mortar hoe that always hangs on the wall, blade up. Just as I reached for it, there was a squawk. Mazie! She's scorning the platform, I guess, and she and her significant other have built their third nest right on top of that mortar hoe blade. So much for mixing cement.

"I'm going on vacation for a couple of weeks," I told her, "and I want that next batch out of here by the time I get back, you hear me? Otherwise I'll...I'll...I'll just have to wait, I guess."

This is Willem Lange in East Montpelier, and I gotta get back to work.
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