This place is for the birds!

So, I met my new neighbor the other day.  She and her husband have a couple of pre-school kids. I told her our boys were four-and-a-half and 18 months old when we moved in next door in 1996. Now, I said, we are empty nesters, except for the robins that come to nest every year in our carport.

This started a few years ago, and they seem to be nesting earlier and earlier, a change I attribute to global warming. Thus, even as I write, the birds are now building a nest despite our best efforts to evict them. In years past, they nested in a crevice above the lattice that separates the carpark from the front entranceway. (See photo below, from June 1, 2014.) I found the whole process rather intriguing and snapped photos of the baby birds about to take flight, after which we became, I joked, empty nesters.

Then technology intruded. The new LED lightbulbs created warm warrens by our front door and  in the middle of the carport.  The birds were quick to move in.  They also built a series of nests in the rafters at the interior end of the carport, lined up like little condos, rent-free.

As someone who writes about housing issues, I found the birds nest phenomenon fascinating. But when bird poop landed by our front door, my beloved found them less so. As they went about their nest-building business, they also left little twigs on the slate in the same area.  “Construction debris,” I observed, archly.  My spouse was not amused.

At this point, if I were Margaret Renkl, the New York Times columnist who waxes poetic about such wonders of nature, I would write something a lot more profound. But that fact is the birds were becoming a problem that called for direct action. I consulted Corky the Electrician. The solution was to box in the two light fixtures, sealing any opening the birds could invade.

Corky came. He covered the openings with material painted red to match the wood stain. Problem solved. Or so we thought. But then there appeared in place of bird poop specks of Styrofoam. It turned out Corky had not used wood to seal the opening, and the birds were eating through the painted Styrofoam to gain access.  Plan B was to replace the Styrofoam with wood.

Problem solved. But not quite. The persistent birds have found another crevice, raising some wire mesh through which a white electric cord is threaded, and they are back to their old tricks. Back to pooping by our front door. Back to littering with construction debris.  At this point, I’m of a mind to live and let live, until the fledglings depart, and we are once again empty nesters.

“They are survivors,” Corky tells me. “Just like us.”


I am proud to report that the new 2021 issue of B’nai B’rith Magazine, which I’ve been editing for 12 years, has now hit the stands, or more properly, the mail boxes, and online.  CEO Dan Mariaschin, cover story author Dina Kraft and I had a conversation about it that can be viewed on YouTube by clicking here.   To read a PDF version of the issue, click here. Usually, my only writing for the magazine is the Editor’s Note. But in this issue I was honored to tell the story of Eric Finzi, a physician (mine) and artist whose grandmother and father were rescued from wartime Italy and came to the United States on a troop transport from Naples in 1944.  Therefore, he exists. You might recognize his name from the Oscar-winning foreign film “The Garden of the Finzi-Continis.” Same family, but his survived.




  1. Emily Levenson on December 6, 2021 at 6:34 am

    Never mess with Mother Nature, she will always win.

    P.S. Squatters have rights too!

  2. Laura Apelbaum on December 6, 2021 at 8:33 am

    This story is very familiar. Just above the front screen porch door at our country home robins insist on nesting. Found that if we remove nest they will come back until successful. So now we let them do their thing for the 5-6 weeks the process takes and we are clear the rest of the summer. Necessitates using side door.

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