Yesterday, I was doing dishes at the sink, and I looked outside as I often do towards the fountain, because there are always birds to look at there, bathing and drinking, and something caught my eye. We have a big bale of straw sitting out by the fence. I use straw for many things - lining the chicken's nesting boxes, hilling potatoes, mulching melons - but now there was a big dark thing on the bale and I couldn't figure out what it was. So I went outside to investigate and this is what I found.
This nest had clearly fallen out of the privet tree above the bale, and landed upside down. I carefully turned it over. The entire thing stayed together as I did this, it was (appearances to the contrary) very tightly woven and intertwined. I looked for evidence of broken eggs: None to be found. So then I went back inside and sat down at the computer, and my first guess turned out to be the correct one - it was a Western Scrub Jay nest.
We get lots of Jays in our garden. They are constantly swooping around, startling the smaller birds, hollering at the dog or cat, warning me to stay away. They like to bathe in the fountain and when they puff themselves up you can see just how large they are. They take the acorns from the Valley Oak, and bury them around the yard to ferment, just like squirrels. (The number one thing that I am always weeding for is tiny Oak trees.) What I didn't realize is that they also eat insects, all kinds (I have seen one eat a honeybee), and even rodents! Of course they also eat small birds and the eggs out of other nests. I have mixed feelings about Jays.
For a fascinating close-up look at a Scrub Jay nest in action, check out this link. This is worth watching!
After researching this nest, I decided to put it back up in the privet. I think the babies have probably already been laid, hatched and launched; but just in case....