Biology lesson

We live in an old house, in the woods, in the south. It’s like a trifecta for creepy crawlies to be a presence in my life.  And I’m not just talking about the dirt dauber that just landed on my arm when I went to get a plate. Oh no. We have armadillos that like to dig up our yard. There is our friend the awesome possum who likes to get into our trash. Every once in a while you’ll come across a crawfish that came out of it’s hole, or a lizard who has decided to sun himself on the side of our porch.  Oh and snakes…but I’ll get to them in a minute.

I have a love/hate relationship with all these, plus the ones I haven’t mentioned. I love the ability to teach my girls a lesson in biology, to teach them about respect for living beings (except spiders, those buggers get squished). And as long as they don’t invade my house (I’m looking at you giant snake in the ceiling) I tend to leave them be. (This is true unless it is a danger to my girls. We tend to dispatch the venomous snakes to keep our girls from getting bitten.)

To this end, I have not fixed the torn screen on the window in my daughters bedroom because for a few years now, birds have been nesting there. What better way to teach my girls about the cycle of life than to watch a clutch of eggs hatch and then thrive before leaving as fluffy little mini Wrens off on adventure.  A few times now we’ve seen it from beginning to end. A happy slice of birdie life happening before our very eyes. There hadn’t been an issue until the other night. The girls check on their birds (yes of course they named them) every couple of hours, and the other night when they went to check on them there was a snake in the nest.

It was horrifying on multiple levels. A snake, only one pane of glass away from my girls bedroom (yikes.) The type of snake (hello rattlesnake…again, yikes) And the fact that my girls were completely distraught that it was eating their birds.  Now I had to drag crying girls away from the bedroom so super hero daddy could rid the nest of the snake (it was a rattlesnake, that thing is not going to live, sorry not sorry) and I could explain about predators and prey and the natural cycle of life. I did everything I could not to quote Lion King. It wasn’t a terribly long episode, over in just a few minutes and only one baby bird was lost. But it was a lesson. Not only in the cycle of life, but in how important it is to tell us if they come across a snake, as well as what kinds of snakes we are willing to let live in really close proximity to us. It won’t be but a few days and the baby Wrens will be flying away, and I’m again left with the decision to fix that window screen.

I want to, but then again, that nest that has been used for a few years has been a great teaching tool for my girls, and a pretty quirky addition to our house. So for now, at least, it stays unfixed. And we continue to watch the growth of four babies. And we continue to learn. And how cool is that?


** The image is a picture I took of the nest. It’s not a great picture, but if you look really hard you can see a bit of yellow of one of the babies beaks.


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