Monday, March 10, 2008


Low: 17°F
High: 34°F
Conditions: Partly sunny with light winds.
Here at home, the caninaturalist is something of a nest connoisseur. She has three official resting places in the house: her crate, and two dog beds adorned with flannel sheets, bones, and a variety of half-mauled dog toys. When she was a puppy, we dubbed her “The Sleep Fighter” and thought of her as a Celtic Warrior Princess, so aggressive was she in her bedtime process of shuffling and nesting. Now that Ari is two, she’s a little less bellicose in her nighttime routine; however, she still insists upon an arrangement period so meticulous she could probably get hired for turn-down services at some of the world’s finest (and most eccentric) hotels.

In addition to these three official nesting areas, Ari has systematically colonized other parts of the house as well. She’s not allowed on furniture, but we’ve had to compromise and allow her access to the back of the sofa, where she insists on perching and watching for feral cats hellbent on taking over the world. Ari’s also not allowed on the people bed, but she’s knows we won’t kick her off between the hours of 3:00-6:00 a.m. If we do, she’ll get up for good and one of the humans will have to take her out to pee. None of us really want that. As a result, both the early morning bed and the back of the couch have clearly become dog domain now. That means they fall prey to the same nesting impulses directed towards the other sleeping areas around the house.

Given Ari’s meticulous attention to her beds, we were particularly delighted to see this tiny nest on one of our recent walks.

Smaller than my fist, this nest impressed us both in its artistry and its diminutive size. In fact, we might has missed it altogether if the caninaturalist hadn’t spied the first robin (Turdus migratorius) of the season, which was laying over in a nearby tree—probably on his way to Newfoundland (Maine robins are too smart to show up for another few weeks. But for this Northern guy, our frozen landscape must have seemed perfectly balmy).

As for the nest, neither Ari nor I could identify it. After reading Bernd Heinrich’s, Winter World, we really wanted to believe the nest belonged to a golden-crowned kinglet (Regulus satrapa). They’re the subject of much of Heinrich’s book, and I fell in love with his depiction of their winter tenacity in the boreal forest. I showed the picture to Dave Potter, the area’s most well-known resident naturalist. “Is it a kinglet nest?,” I asked. “I mean, it could be, right? It could be a kinglet, couldn’t it?”

No amount of enthusiastic questioning could make it so. Kinglets, according to Potter, are not nearly so tidy in their construction. He thought this nest was most likely built by a solitary vireo (Vireo solitarius). After reading about them in the field guide, I’ve taken back my initial disappointment. The vireo is famous for being nonplussed about human and other large-animal intrusion, which might be why we saw this nest so close to the road. And get this: their call is known as the “husky chatter.” How could Ari and I not love this fact?

The solitary vireo is also one of the first birds to arrive in the early spring, which means the caninaturalist will soon have more than just robin company on her walks, too. I think she might just have a new favorite bird.


jan said...

Love the night time routine. There was a time when I said no dogs on the bed. But one by one all four dogs have managed to slither on in the quiet and in the dark. And I am worn down.

chasingsquirrelswithrusty said...

Love it! I get to stay on the bed with mom till dad comes to bed then I have to go to the crate!

Mom says that nest is very pretty!

Khyra The Siberian Husky said...

Oh Ari - woo got them right where woo want them -

Just keep being khute - and eventually all the beds and all the FURniture will be yours!

That is - if woo want it!


PeeEss: I turn down the bed and nest it up fur my mom!

Steve, Kat, & Wilbur said...

That's a pretty cool nest. Does it have husky fur in it? Ari, you've got to do something about this bed thing. The bed is only the most awesome place to sleep... at ALL hours!


Simba said...

I had a crate when I was a puppy, its long gone now. Human bed for me.

Simba xx

Turbo the Sibe said...

When my Human was a little human, a neighbor showed her a birds nest that had fallen out of a tree. In the nest was a small pastry brush, so it seemed as if the birds owned the world's smallest broom.

The Army of Four said...

"No furniture" rule for us - except for the bed. I love to curl up in a cinnamon bun.
We found a nest in one of our trees that's lined with Sibe fur. I like thinking we're helping little birdies stay warm!
Play bows,

JB's Big World said...

That is an interesting bird's nest. I always wonder how birds can stand the cold, when it is as cold as it is where you live.
Ari has the right idea....nesting inside is much warmer!

Marigold said...

When the caninaturalist provides her exquisite 'turn down' services, does she provide Peanuts on the pillow? I have to say, that would be a nice addition.
We make 'nests' in the hay, too...although I have to admit that Boo's nest is much bigger than everyone else's.
We have Ruby-Crowned Kinglets, but as yet, we have not been lucky enough to find a nest. What a nice discovery! Thank you for the picture!

Me & my puppies said...

What an excellent fine, I will have to look up this bird. Here in Jersey, we are also seeing signs of our friends returning. Isn't great!

powder-puff said...

Hey Ari!!

Thats a cool looking nest, ive never seen anything like that before!

I hope you have a great day!


Sitka and Tia's BLAWG! said...

Wooo Ari!!! That is a cool little nest you and your mom found!

P.S. Mom asked me to tell your mom that she is sorry she is a slacker and has not responded to her last email!

The Daily Echo said...

What a neat little nest. All of our neighborhood nests have husky hair woven into them. I don't know why. And how could they have possibly gotten our hair? I think we need to be more careful when we snooze outside. One of us needs to stand guard. Silly birds!

Farmgirl_dk: said...

That was a great visual you gave on Ari being hired for turn-down services at the finest (and mosgt eccentric) hotels...very funny! :-)
Clearly I'm late to the party...I, too, think that is a very cool nest.

scierzan said...

Winter World is one of my favorite books!

You and Ari seem to have so much fun exploring outside...


Jan said...

I was shocked years ago when I first heard what you commented on at JfF. Who would kill the animals trained to help protect our troops in a war? I haven't heard whether they'll do the same with the dogs used in Iraq & Afghanistan. Poor dogs. That's so wrong.

Island Rambles Blog said...

Hi ari and kathryn, I love ari's bedtime routine and the nest is so beautifully made. I like these posts about ari, it is so relaxing here...we don't have to deal with earth shattering events here.

Lorenza said...

Beds and couches belong to me! I had a dog bed that I used to put my toys but never to sleep on it!
That is a cool nest!
Kisses and hugs

Eve said...

Hi Ari! Hi Kathryn!
Daisy Lu, Ole and I will look forward to becoming better caninaturalists with you! We are no slouches however so lets share stories! Check back on our blog later to meet Ole, he is a great nature watcher, and mostly leaves the critters alone, but for a mouse or two!!! However being a hound dog...when a bunny farts, we all know abuot it!!!
Your new friends,
Eve, Daisy Lu and Ole (with a lone e!)

John Theberge said...

I see a lot of herons while I'm kayaking but its not too common that I can get close. They are fun too watch from a distance as they slowly wade through the water and every now and then stab into the shallows and come up with a fish or frog. The heron photo I posted yesterday was actually taken about a hundred feet from a busy road.(rt.4)

Ferndoggle said...

I used to be able to sleep on the bed...till the brown dog came along. And then the white dog joined the pack & the fun was over forever!

I do still sneak up in the middle of the night. I get about 1/2 hour of nesting in until I push Mom off the bed and she makes me sleep on the floor.

We're just starting to get our birds back (they're driving Lola nuts!) and the nests are soon to follow.