The next time you attend one of those “Tour of Homes” events, why not expand your horizons?

After a day admiring dramatic abodes, with fine dining rooms, killer kitchens and cool pools, take a few hours to go looking for birds’ nests. Unusual ones. You could win prizes with a photo or a story of a creative bird’s nest.

The “Funky Nest Contest” is sponsored by the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology.

Experts there say birds are innovative, imaginative homebuilders. 

The contest runs through June 15. My wife entered her photo of a mockingbirds’ nest in the crotch of “Flailing Man,” our name for the big blue metallic sculpture of a man in motion we saw in Marco Island, Fla.

Mockingbirds by nature must have loved the crotch locale, whistling insults to the blue sculpture man such as, “Boo on you, you’re all blue,” and “You can’t sing, you can’t dance, you’re not wearing underpants.”

As we recall, landscapers one day cleaned out the crotch birds’ nest after the birds had moved out.  The next year, mockingbirds built a new nest in Flailing Man’s cranium. Head games surely followed because mockingbirds are big teases.

A friend in Midtown Atlanta, Barbara Klaus, had just filled a hanging planter on her balcony with pansies recently, when a pair of mourning doves took over. They pushed the flowering plants aside and built a nest in the hanging basket, using pine straw and other material they had collected around the neighborhood.

“I didn’t want to disturb the birds and the eggs in the nest,” our friend Barbara says,  “so every morning, I enjoyed the mourning doves through the window until the chicks hatched and flew away.”

Obviously almost any place you go in this area will have great potential to see birds and their nests. Here’s how the contest is explained on funkynests.org.

Whether you find a robin’s nest on a statue or a hummingbird’s nest on wind chimes, your picture of a bird nest in a funky place can win big in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Funky Nests in Funky Places contest.

“Just start looking,” says Karen Purcell, who created the contest several years ago as part of the Cornell Lab’s Celebrate Urban Birds citizen-science project. 

“Past experience has shown us you can find bird nests in the most surprising places. We’ve seen them in helmets, old boots, stoplights, store signs, car tires, clotheslines, mailboxes, potted plants, and even a stuffed moose head!”

Entries may be photos, videos, artwork, poems, or stories. 

“You don’t have to be a bird expert or an expert photographer. Everyone is welcome to participate as individuals or with a class, community center or after-school program. Prizes include binoculars, bird feeders, cameras, an iPad and more.”

Again, the entry deadline is June 15. The contest people say they can share information on how to find nests without disturbing them.

If you want to take a great photo and submit it to the contest, visit the website funkynests.org. Click on the blue button, “Get Funky Now.”

don@donfarmer.com

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