Birds and Bees, Living Together

The past few weeks featured a good deal of typical New England early spring weather — mostly cool and rainy, and for prolonged periods. But today was quite sunny and warm, with a bit of a blustery breeze to cool things off. Standing before the Mansfield House, I couldn’t help but notice the wildlife (no, not squirrels) making my place their own abode, and apparently enjoying it as much as I do.

Sparrow on CATV cable

A nest building sparrow, perched on the CATV cable.

The little guy in the photo above was singing away merrily, and building a nest behind the angled trim piece where it meets the hanging barge board, just above the service drop/drip head.

Bee flying near front eaves

Carpenter bee hovering just before the front eave; note the entry holes in the soffit, just above the window.

There were also at least a half-dozen bees buzzing about. Their behavior was a bit more difficult to decipher; they’d hover in stationary positions for long periods of time, while facing the wall, then take off in pairs or threes, disappearing over the roof. But every so often, I’d spot one entering or exiting any of a number a tiny holes in the soffit.

Bee hovering by second story window

Another hovering carpenter bee, just outside the south chamber window.

These are eastern carpenter bees, and they’ve undoubtedly been living here a very long time. My guess is their nests are just above the soffit and under the large top plate, which overhangs the wall slightly. They’re a relatively docile bee (the males don’t even possess stingers), and usually a significant pollinator. So I’m not too fussed by their general presence.

Hovering bee, just at the eave

And yet another hovering carpenter bee, right at the eave, with an entry hole in plain sight.

However, their colonies also tend to inhabit the same location year round, and can cause considerable damage to the wood they burrow in. So here’s yet one more pest I need to figure out how to humanely exclude.

Anyway, all of this timeless harmony inspired me to engage the universe a bit in my own way. So I took advantage of the unobstructed midday sunlight and set about calibrating (or more precisely, determining the degree of calibration of) a small, handheld sundial of mine.

Small sundial

Measuring "sun time" during the sun's southing, or meridian passage.

Have I ever mentioned I’m obsessed with all manner of primitive time pieces, especially sundials? More on this, perhaps, in some subsequent postings…

With verdure, the wide earth’s overspread, and trees adorned with blooms; the paths in May bow sweat to tread, mid forests of perfume — Farmers’ Almanac

About John Poole

My interests include historic homes, architectural preservation and restoration, improving the energy performance of old houses, and traditional timber frames.
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4 Responses to Birds and Bees, Living Together

  1. It seems like you had a very happy day, for which I am glad. I’m also glad that you finally figured out the birds and bees. About time.

  2. For the carpenter bees, you might try doing a quick google search on log homes & the finish they apply which deters said bees.
    Very interesting time piece & yes on a future article

    • John Poole says:

      Thanks, Sean. I can see where a log home would be susceptible to these guys, so that sounds like a good resource to pursue. And yes, I’ll be publishing a bit more on the different time pieces, as it’s a pretty fascinating topic. Thanks again.

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