Today I discovered that the birds who've decided to take up residence in the cover on my propane tank outside have finally hatched their chicks. And it must have been very recently because just the other day I checked and there were still eggs and today I saw a nearly naked bird.
I didn't really want them in there. When the weather began to get warmer and the birds returned from their winter migration, a lot were hopping around the backyard munching on the bugs that were disturbed after we had it mowed. Husband and our lawn guy noticed a few pieces of dried grass and sticks coming out from under the cover where the gauges and fill valves are. They opened it and found the very beginnings of a nest. Not much there so they swept away the debris in hopes that the birds would find somewhere else to live.
A few days later I was outside playing with the dogs and noticed more bits of dried grass and feathers sticking out of the space between the tank and the cover. I went over and opened it to find an incomplete nest but with more debris than had been there previously. I figured since there weren't any eggs I'd get rid of it and come back with some mesh to put over the hole on the top of the cover so they couldn't return.
They knew they needed to get the eggs laid and were faster than I was. The next time I went to the tank, not only was there a much bigger nest built but also four small blue eggs resting in a small space next to the cover. I carefully closed it because I didn't want to disturb the eggs or have any fall from the nest. I waited a couple of days to make sure that they'd not abandoned the nest and opened the cover again. That time I found the eggs in the same space but the birds had found a small square of cling film and placed it under their eggs. They meant business and they weren't going to be leaving. So, I informed the family to leave the nest alone and we would wait to see if the birds would continue incubating there.
I checked on them again and the eggs had not yet hatched but one of the parent birds flew out of the cover as I opened it. I'm really surprised it didn't try to peck at me or defend the nest. I'd made a lot of noise on the cover in hopes of shooing it away before I opened it. But, it just flew away and I saw the four eggs still in their little space. Today, however, I made noise and tried to make sure to shoo away any adult birds and thought I heard a bird above me in the tree giving something like a distress call. Nope, what I heard was coming from inside the cover and that's when I opened it a little and found the backside of the chick facing me.
So, I slowly lowered the cover and made sure not to disturb the nest. I don't know if all four have hatched or just the one I saw because I was too afraid to open it any wider for fear the naked chick I saw would topple out of the nest. I'm sure sooner or later we'll be seeing the little ones trying to get out of the hole in the top of the cover as their parents bring more food back to them.
And while it's cute and neat to see nature up-close, I'm still putting that mesh up after these are gone. Don't want a repeat every year and I'm just really glad I don't have to get my tank filled in the warmer months!