Balenciaga Bird’s Nest

Only after I lopped off the oak leaf hydrangea branch, did I spy the exquisite nest neatly tucked into its crook. Aargh. I hated the thought I had destroyed this perfect little nesting opportunity, but there were no eggs in sight and no distress calls from an upset mother bird, so I think the nest had already been abandoned. I hope.


I think this is a red cardinal nest based on what I’ve seen others construct. Let’s look at this little wonder. The outer layer is constructed of shredded oak leaves and stems with bits of bark, catkins, and mulch. And where the eggs would have lain, the nest is softer and lined with grasses. So much painstaking work went into making this perfect little dwelling that I can’t help but marvel at it:


And turning the nest over, I spy something I’ve never seen used before:


Kind of a mess there, Mama Cardinal, but I see you are resourceful. You scooped up some plastic and what’s that I see? Snakeskin?

How in vogue you are, dahlink. I hear all the nests are wearing snakeskin this year!



OK, styling as our little nest might be, I am going to be tiptoeing around that area of the garden for a while. I have adopted a live and let live policy towards our ubiquitous black snake. It’s not so much the snake himself that scares me – it’s how startling his sudden appearance is. No warning, no noise – you just look down and there he is. If only he wore a little bell to warn me of his slithery approach. That seems reasonable, right?

Country people tell me the big black snakes that live around here, which are non-venomous,  are good for lots of reasons including keeping mice and copperheads at bay. Still their very presence in the garden is a heartstopper for me.

Even if they do add just that right element of chic to the birds’ nests.

And thanks for reading,




About Silver in the Barn

Life in a 1915 farmhouse in Central Virginia. And the odd thought or two.
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34 Responses to Balenciaga Bird’s Nest

  1. Mary Ellen says:

    Wow, that nest of yours is so interesting. We had a small deer in our garden last night! This is unusual in town, but they are getting more aggressive. Do you have any suggestions to keep him or her out? I remember the human hair idea from when we lived in Midlothian.


    • Hello ME, If I had the answer to how to keep deer out of gardens, I would be wearing real Balenciaga! You can try the sprays….I’ve had marginal luck with that….but the best thing I’ve done to keep them out is to grow what they don’t like. Your vegetable garden is fenced, I hope? A man here in Amelia has had really good luck by staking fishing line at about waist height which startles them when they walk into it or bend down to eat. Good luck.


  2. markbialczak says:

    You have high fashion in the hydrangea, Barbara. Although, like you, finding the black snakeskin in the red Cardinal nest would be a heart-stopping moment for me, too. Red Cardinal sighting, yes. Any snake sighting, no thank you.


  3. nrhatch says:

    Darling nest. Fun post. I’m with you on the snakes ~ I have a live and let live policy as long as they do not under any circumstance sneak up on me when I’m not looking. That is just wrong!


  4. Diane Ahlberg says:

    A real fashionista that cardinal is!
    Amazing how resourceful these mother birds are while preparing their nests- and fast
    I’ve watched a nest in my porch ferns go together in an hour.
    As for your snakes….I know we all have them I just choose to pretend I don’t .It”s just better that way.


    • Right now there is a wren nesting in one of the front porch urns. The nest is completely different….like a little cave. And both parents are feeding the babies. And so I have to tiptoe up to that urn to water it….very carefully…..while the wrens watch me from the railing. Yes, choose to pretend about the snakes, but keep your eyes open, girl.


  5. Pat S. says:

    Your inquiring mind has unveiled another miracle of nature…such ingenuity from our little feathered friend!


  6. Dianna says:

    Birds’ nests are always fascinating — imagine their nature to just know exactly how to construct the nest in the best way! But I’m with you on the snakeskin…..last year, I found a “stash” of hatched snake eggs near a flower bed……ick! Believe me, I was extra cautious from then on…still am! Loved your post today!


    • ACK! That really would throw me off from going into that flower bed ever again without looking really closely. BTW, an Amelia County friend posted on Facebook yesterday that she found a black snake in her kitchen sink. Now THAT would require immediate assassination. Glad you enjoyed, Dianna.


  7. carolwallace says:

    Barb, you should send that nest to England pronto, the Queen needs a new hat!


  8. jeanie555 says:

    It takes too long to recognize if it is a black snake or not. Your heart can stop in a second!   You are his-s-s-terical, Barbara!  Gorgeous nest by the way. even your birds are stylin’.

    Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone


  9. Sue Mayo says:

    I have had 3 birds nest this spring. 1 in a hanging basket, 1 over the front porch light and 1 in the awning on the back deck. I hope they are done. Have not seen any snakes and, trust me, I have not looked for any.


    • Yes, it really seems to be a particularly abundant spring for nests. My mother opened her front door only to have a wren fly out of her wreath. And she found wrens picking the fibers out of her porch rug. I guess they couldn’t find any snakeskin.


  10. Audrey says:

    Amazing…especially the snake skin component.


  11. dorothy says:

    This nest is quite elegant and would have been an inspiration years ago for a famous milliner here in Richmond by the name of Sara Sue,. She travelled the world getting ideas and materials for her hats. Just think.oppotunities are right there in Amelia and what a design that would have been. Are you saving the nest for your Christmas tree. Supposed to be good luck. Good find.


    • Well, I’m saving the nest and what a great idea to add to the Christmas tree. I do remember your stories of Sara Sue, Dorothy, and now you know I am going to have to investigate further! Thank you!


  12. dorannrule says:

    Imagine a bird making use of plastic and snake skin! At least some human’s discards were being put to good use and I’m sure the snake didn’t mind. What an amazing discovery Barbara.


  13. Such clever observations, Barbara. Even mama bird has design aspirations.


  14. Betsy says:

    Love the nest! All the different textures and materials! Hope you’re saving it to use in your house!!So neat..


  15. You gotta love the bird’s resourcefulness! I didn’t think they’d use something as artificial as plastic, but snakeskin seems like a great idea….your nest reminded me of the untidy robin’s nests I’ve seen around here. As for snakes – on my way home today, I saw 2 (TWO!) rattlesnakes curled up on the road, within a few miles of each other. Don’t know why they insist on curling up in the middle of the roadway. Some guys will drive over them just for sport…


    • Rattlesnakes? Now that would scare me mightily. Do you ever see them close to the house or in your garden? I think they might like the road as the sun heats up the asphalt and they can soak in all that good warmth.


      • I usually only get garter snakes and black snakes but last year, I found a rattler in the garage warning me in a timely manner and there were other occasions we were duly warned when we got too close to some blackberry bushes….


  16. eta712whiteoakcottage says:

    I love how you took the time to investigate what the nest was made out of, and wrote about it. You have such a good sense of humor: “Snakeskin is in vogue this year. ” I too do not like snakes; coiled up, basking in the sun; right next to me – dreadful!


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