Birds of a Feather
Characters: Mrs. Bluebird, Mr. Bluebird, Red-eyed Vireo, Phoebe, Goldfinch
Mrs. Bluebird Well, that’s the last straw!
Mr. Bluebird What is it, my dear? Is something the matter?
Mrs. Bluebird The matter? No, I just said that’s the last straw. I’ve just added the last piece of straw to our nest, and now it’s done.
Mr. Bluebird And a more beautiful nest I’ve never seen. I always admire your great talent in nest building. It must have been hard to learn.
Mrs. Bluebird Why no, not at all. I just seemed to know what to do. It must be instinct.
Mr. Bluebird And I suppose now you’ll be starting to incubate our eggs.
Mrs. Bluebird Well, not just yet, dear. After all, I’ll only lay one egg a day until I have a full clutch – say three or four eggs – and then it’ll be time to incubate. That way, all our babies will arrive at the same time.
Mr. Bluebird And they’ll all be ready to learn to fly at the same time. That’s what I call good planning. (tapping noise). Uh oh, sounds like an intruder looking for a nest box just like ours. Well, he’d better look somewhere else or he’ll have me to deal with! (exits)
Mrs. Bluebird There’s so much competition for nest cavities. It’s nearly a full-time job for my mate just to keep intruders away.
Mr. Bluebird (returning) Well, I took care of him!
Mrs. Bluebird Who was it this time, dear?
Mr. Bluebird That was a house wren trying to bring a twig in here to start his nest.
Mrs. Bluebird The idea! Do the male house wrens build the nests instead of the females?
Mr. Bluebird Not really. The males start nests of twigs wherever they can find a good cavity. When the female comes along, she’ll pick one of his nests and then rebuild it to suit herself. She adds feathers and grasses and even spider egg cases.
Mrs. Bluebird Such clutter!
Mr. Bluebird Some birds put all kinds of things into their nests, like hair, bark, spider silk. Why, the Great Crested Flycatcher often puts in a snake skin!
Mrs. Bluebird (shudders) Oooh! Makes my feathers stand on end. I think I need a bit of fresh air. Is the coast clear?
Mr. Bluebird All clear for take-off. (Mrs. Bluebird exits; Vireo enters)
Red-eyed Vireo Did I hear you mention spider silk-eo?
Mr. Bluebird Who are you? I haven’t seen you in these parts before.
Vireo If you want to know me, dear-eo, then come a little near-eo. Look at my eyes, and not at my ear-eos!
Mr. Bluebird You’ve got red eyes – hey, you must be the red-eyed vireo.
Vireo Hear, hear, hear-eo, I am a vireo! I’m not much to look at, but my nest is very dear-eo. I hang it from a branch with spider silk, and cover it with birch bark curl-eos.
Mr. Bluebird Sounds very fancy. You must hate to leave behind such a nice nest every fall.
Vireo Yes, I shed a tear-eo. But those old nests might have parasites in them. And, besides, after the winter, they’re very mess-eo. It’s better to start fresh-eo. So, cheerio, Mr. Blue, I must get right to work! (exits)
Mr. Bluebird Cheerio, Vireo. (Phoebe enters)
Mr. Phoebe Phoebe, Phoebe! Phoebe, Phoebe! Now where is she?
Mr. Bluebird Hello, are you looking for someone?
Phoebe Well, what do you think, buddy. I’m looking for my wife, Phoebe. Phoebe! I’ve got a great piece of real estate I want to show her.
Mr. Bluebird Not this real estate! This is my house!
Phoebe Hey, don’t get all ruffled, Feathers! I’m not looking for a cavity. We phoebes build our nests on ledges – in barns, on houses, and if we’re really lucky, we get a spot under a bridge.
Mr. Bluebird I’ve heard you called “bridge birds.”
Phoebe Sure, and it’s not because we play a lot of cards!
Mr. Bluebird How do you phoebes get your nests to stay up there?
Phoebe Oh, that’s easy. We start with a little mud. Dries hard as cement and sticks like glue.
Mr. Bluebird I’ve heard of birds using mud for nest-building – like robins and wood thrushes.
Phoebe Don’t forget barn swallows. Sometimes we build our nests on top of old swallows’ nests, and sometimes they use ours. Hey, I’d better stake out my territory before someone else gets there first. Phoebe, Phoebe! (exits; goldfinch enters)
Mr. Goldfinch Potato chip, potato chip.
Mr. Bluebird Hello, Goldfinch. You don’t seem to be busy defending a nest.
Goldfinch Nah, competition for nest sites is too high in the spring. You ought to do what we Goldfinches do.
Mr. Bluebird What’s that?
Goldfinch Well, we wait until later in the summer when the thistles bloom and go to seed. Then we have plenty of thistle seed to feed our families, and we can line our nests with thistle down. It makes a fine, soft cradle.
Mr. Bluebird Well, that may be a great idea for goldfinches, but we bluebirds don’t eat thistle seeds. We eat insects. And we don’t line our nests with thistle down. We prefer grasses.
Goldfinch Well, guess you’ll do what works for you. I’ve got to fly! (exits)
Mr. Bluebird Good bye! (Mrs. Bluebird enters)
Mrs. Bluebird Hello, dear. You look troubled. What’s the matter?
Mr. Bluebird Barns and bridges! Spider silk, snake skins, and thistle down! What a bunch of bird-brained ideas!
Mrs. Bluebird What are you talking about?
Mr. Bluebird Feathering the nest, that’s what! But I think we should stick with our plain nest of grasses. It’s simple but elegant.
Mrs. Bluebird I’m happy you like it, dear. I guess you and I are just birds of a feather.
Mr. Bluebird That we are, Mrs. Blue. That we are!