Lange: Mazie

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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.

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.

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.

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

"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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