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Preen Where You Perch

You have probably heard the expression “bloom where you are planted.” I think the quote begs an interesting question… if our nests are where we are planted, are we creating nests that help us bloom and thrive? Or are we waiting- for the spare time, for the next house or promotion, or divine intervention to invest in the aesthetics of our nests in a way that preens us from the inside out?

As my previous post reflected, I believe we can learn quite a bit from our feathered friends. Whether a bird’s an ostrich, a hummingbird, a penguin, or one of the other 9,862 species of birds, all birds have four things in common: feathers, wings, egg-laying, and warm bloodedness. Along the same lines, all humans share certain traits and needs. Abraham Maslow outlined the latter in his hierarchy of needs. One of the most basic needs that you find at the bottom of that pyramid is shelter, another word for our nest. The décor and furnishings of our homes are expressions of a fundamental human need for our home to reflect who we are and to shelter us on a deeper level than simple survival demands.

(Click images to see detail)

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All spring and summer I have enjoyed the delightful distraction of cardinals, robins, and their feathered friends hanging out at the bird feeder outside my office window. It is like I am viewing my own private nature channel as I watch winged patrons peruse the menu and in between bites they pause their dining to stretch, sunbathe, and preen on my porch rail. Preening might seem like pure vanity, but it is not just a way for a bird to pass the time. Preening is essential to the bird’s health, success, and happiness. Doing so aligns feathers for optimum waterproofing, insulation, and flight. It also removes parasites and helps attract a mate. And, once a mate is found, a courtship ritual of mutual preening increases the bonds between the lovebirds (pun unabashingly intended).

When examining this bird behavior in light of the hierarchy of needs, obviously the feeding comes first. However, the preening is also very important. Just like with nesting humans, preening birds are not simply “cleaning up for company.” Just like birdkind, we also need to be aerodynamic on our flights to and from home, enjoy rituals with family and friends (which for us often involve food more than feathers), and shake off the dirt from our travels. I know I often procrastinate on home projects for a multitude of reasons, but when I do follow through, walking into the rearranged or improved space fills me with long-lasting comfort and joy. While we can’t always afford the time or money to make every single improvement that we may want, we shouldn’t let what we can’t do keep us from doing what we can to make our nest the best possible. Or, to take a page from our feathered friends, preen where you are perched! And we hope to give you the tools to do just that here on our site. Peruse away, Nesting Chicks!

Contributed by Shaw Hipsher. The Nesting Chick welcomes your comments!