Springing to Life

Birds do it, bees do it. So do lots of our local animal species. It’s Spring!


Look around. Attention is being paid to potential partnering and nest building by many, some close to home.


Birds, of course. Overhead they are multitasking. As they fly about cheerily chirping, communicating with each other, they are simultaneously searching for the perfect mate. In anticipation, they are busily collecting a variety of twigs and basic nest building materials for their next generation. Architecturally skilled birds design meticulous nests with intricate weaving. Others are a bit lax. Peregrine falcon females  simply lay their eggs atop cliff edges at the Torrey Pine Reserve. Bats, flying mammals, awakened from their winter hibernation in caves, trees, and available structures, don’t nest. Female bats establish “maternity colonies” for their pups after giving birth hanging upside down from their feet (the position they roost in because bats legs can’t support their body weight upright) and catch their pups, one per year, with their wings.

Female in nest with recently laid egg. Photos by john Weare

Down to earth, creatures are searching for mates and securing cushy shelters for their newborn. For mice and rats, who aren’t restricted to springtime breeding and who produce a possible 17 litters a year of 6-12 pups, spring is time they move from their winter retreats to al fresco nests anywhere a nook of opportunity presents itself. Opossums get into the mating mood in spring for their first round of reproducing. They prefer to nest under decks or buildings where the females birth an average of 13 joeys.  The joeys, being marsupials, migrate kangaroo like to their mother’s pouch where they grow up. Skunks happily house themselves anywhere. Females but prefer to be under cover—including houses and decks to hide their 4-6 kits.  Raccoons produce one litter per year with 2-5 kits and may choose to nest in various sites: a tree hollow, a brush pile, an abandoned burrow, or a chimney, an attic, an under house crawl space. Wherever, a mother raccoon will return to the same nesting spot next spring and will pass the locations down to her kits for them to follow.

Top of egg visible inside the nest.