March 17, 2014
There is an agave less than 10 feet off our east porch that bloomed two years ago. Agaves bloom only once, after about 10 years, and then they die usually leaving some young plants nearby to continue the cycle. The tall bloom stalk and the dead plant blow over in one of our wind storms and life goes on. This plant has indeed died, but it is still upright. I have tried to push it over, but it still seems solid and because the birds like to use it as a perch I decided to leave it alone.
This changed when a ladder-back woodpecker showed up this winter and started to drill a hole in the stalk on the lee side. He worked at it for some days but then abandoned work. A couple of weeks ago he did return and started another, lower, hole. This time it is serious. There are two of them working: male and female. Over the last days they have actually excavated enough to disappear into the hole, turn around, and spit out drill dust that goes flying into the wind.
What if these birds are serious about building a nest in there? What if the stalk blows over with the nest, eggs, hatchlings? This is too much to contemplate, so today we set our early to secure the stalk. I hope that 4 guy wires tied to rebar into the ground will do the job.
The birds were not put off by the modifications. Both of them are working hard at drilling and spitting. I am a bit concerned about the nest being so close to the house and the kitchen window, but they do not seem too worried about us, or about the cactus wrens who are not too pleased but not put off enough to move their nest from the porch. Stay tuned.