The Absence of Plastic

Towards the end of January in 2017, I cleaned out the three birdhouses in my back yard. They all had nests inside but I noticed that none of them had been used; one was barely begun and another I judged to be abnormal.

the 3 bird nests

The one I considered abnormal had practically filled the whole bird house. The top of it was flat and solid, there was no place for a mother bird to lay or sit on her eggs. Like the others, that birdhouse was made of many natural materials, but it also included many small pieces of plastic.

I ended up taking that bird nest apart. I soon discovered it contained a tremendous amount of plastic. Below you will see a photo of the plastic that I found in that one nest.

I wondered if the bird’s brain had been poisoned by the plastic and if that was why the top was flat. My heart ached when I thought about the many ways humans contaminate nature.

This experience occurred soon after we started working on restoring the Greenbelt property that is adjacent to my house. The land at that time was full of trash, big and small, and there were a lot of small plastic pieces in and on top of the ground.

It was near nesting season, so we decided to invite the Bala Kendra group from our Amma satsang to do a Greenbelt litter pickup work party. It was amazing to see how much trash the children gathered in an hour’s time.

In the years since then, numerous truckloads of garbage have been removed from the property.

This year, when I cleaned out the bird houses in preparation for nesting season, I found that two of the houses were practically empty. Only one contained a complete nest. It didn’t look like it had been used, but at least it had been built normally; there was a cup indentation on top, a place for the mother bird to lay her eggs.

I didn’t take apart the nest this time but the absence of plastic was very noticeable. I only saw one small piece on the outside of the nest and another small piece at the bottom of the cup.

***

You can read the full story about my 2017 experience in a three part series. It includes many more photos, some of them microscopic. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

A Surprising and Disturbing Discovery: Part 3

components2

In Part 1 of this series, I showed photos of the bird houses in my back yard and the nests I found inside of them. I questioned why one of the nests almost filled the bird house. I also wondered why the big one had a flat top leaving no place for a nesting female and her eggs.

In Part 2, I relayed that readers had informed me that it was a wren who had built the big nest and I shared information I had learned about wrens since my first post. In addition, I wrote about what I found when I took that nest apart.

In Part 3, I will share microscopic photos of all ten of the nest’s components and then let you know why I still feel disturbed.

(Note 1: The numbers near the photos below correspond to the numbers at the top of this post. Note 2: You can click on the galleries to enlarge the photos.)

#1

#2

#3a

#3b

#4

#5

#6

#7

#8

#9

#10

While I love the beauty the microscopic photos revealed, there was one material that greatly disturbed me. That was item #10, plastic. I was dismayed to see how much plastic was in the nest when I took it apart.

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I know that birds, fish and other creatures can get sick if they eat plastic. Here is a photo that was taken of the contents of the stomach of a dead albatross at Midway Island.

512px-albatross_at_midway_atoll_refuge_8080507529
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

I have to wonder if the fact that this wren’s nest had a top on it was because the bird was sick from eating plastic and its brain was not working correctly. There is no way to know.

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Shared with Senior Salon and Lets Create a Fine Chain…