As reporter Estelle Caswell chronicled the happenings of her new neighbors this year, she had a few questions for her loud, fledging porch dwellers. As the residents of the robin’s nest on her front stoop grew, something started to weigh heavy on her. With so many chicks crowded into such a small space… why was it so clean? Where was all the poop?!
This year, Estelle was probably not alone in her new hobby. With all of the Netflix caught up on, nest watching—finding a nest and watching the baby birds as they went from tiny eggs to fledglings—became a daily source of joy for many of us. Like all great reporting, it just takes a single curiosity to bust open a great line of questioning!
So, really, where was all the poop? Is your curiosity sparked as well now? Keep scrolling to discover the wonder that could be sitting right outside your door.
The Year We All Became Birders
This year, perhaps because of more time at home and maybe fewer noises around us, we saw and heard more birds than we thought was possible. I saw more pictures of nests and the progress of the little chicks inside of them than I ever have—and for many of us, this magic unfolded right outside our own windows.
Some people named their chicks, others dutifully checked in on them every day. I, like many others, became fond of a nest by my office window and was there the day my little friends fledged!
Most of us would have asked some basic questions about our new bird friends: “Why are robin eggs vibrant blue?” “What kind of bird is that?” “Where do these birds come from?” “Where do they go in the winter?”
Few of us, though, would ask the question that Estelle Caswell from Vox asked when she befriended a robin’s nest on her front porch: “Where’s the poop?”
Now, this question may seem weird at first but just think about it. There’s a lot of birds shoved into a nest, and if you inspect them, you’ll see they usually aren’t that messy. So, where is all of it going? (Do baby birds even poop?!)
On her quest to get the answer to her query, Estelle answers many of the questions we have about birds, and reminds us that perspective-shifting wonder is hardly more than a step outside of our door—we just have to remember to look!
*A strong note of caution: you’ll want to hear the answer to the “where’s the poop” question, but if you’re at all squeamish, just turn away from 6:35-6:50.
Vox is one of our favorite content producers. They cover a wide range of topics from pop culture, to science, to history and their videos are always informative and entertaining. You can see more of their work over on their YouTube channel!
So, what does bird poop have to do with proving it’s still an amazing world? Well, maybe the answer to this question doesn’t immediately change our worldview but the kind of curiosity that leads to that line of questioning sure does.
Think about it: when was the last time you let yourself be truly curious? As curious as when you were a young child? Kids can endlessly ask questions and find wonder in the strangest, simplest places, so what happens to that curiosity when we grow up?
We don’t lose that curiosity, we just stop exercising those muscles. And, like any muscle, it starts to lose strength when we don’t use it. Getting curious and letting ourselves follow that spark can lead us to some amazing places, though.
When we practice being curious, it can help us find our way when we seem lost, see more beauty in the world, and bring us to places we would’ve never known existed. These adventures in curiosity change our perspective on the world, and when we start to look around us through this lens, it becomes a far more amazing place!
The best part is, we don’t have to go far to have our curiosity sparked. We can find joy, awe, and wonder right in our own backyard, if only we have the curiosity to look! Here are a few examples I love from our archive.
Can Squirrels Outsmart a NASA Engineer?
These fuzzy backyard bandits are breaking into bird feeders across the globe! But can this former NASA engineer design a squirrel-proof bird feeder? Check out this ingenious course he came up with, meet the contenders, and prepare for the most amazing—and hilarious—look at how our squirrel friends work their magic!Read More
Become an Instant Backyard Scientist with iNaturalist!
What if you could go on a safari and get up close and personal with hundreds of plants animals, no plane ticket, no fancy guide, and no money required? Now, all of us can experience our own backyards with a little more wonder thanks to this amazing app!Read More
So, get out there! Start small; take a walk and see what piques your curiosity. Then, maybe let yourself tumble down a little rabbit hole of wonder. If you do this just a little, every day, I promise you’ll start to see more wonder in the world!
Stay beautiful & keep laughing!
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- Vox. “Why Bird Nests Aren’t Covered in Poop.” YouTube, 2 Sept. 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=lG7OmThrq5g&feature=emb_title. Accessed 8 Oct. 2020. ↩