Human beings routinely have to deal with unintended consequences. Things like shoveling the snow off your roof only to find in the spring time that you have ruined the shingles in the process.
Another favorite of mine is when municipalities switched to LED type lamps in street lights, they discovered that in some areas of the country the lights no longer gave off enough heat to keep the snow and ice from building up on the lights–back to the drawing board.
“Back to the drawing board” is a common phrase used regarding the issue of unintended consequences.
But as difficult as it is to foresee all the possible outcomes of our actions, human beings have it way easier than other animals that have to deal with all the creations of human beings.
Take for example the simple act of a bird building a nest. Come spring, many birds have no choice but to build a nest, lay their eggs, nurture the eggs and the young that hatch from them, and thus continue the cycle of what birds do. Without human beings around they are stuck with building nests in the natural environment. Human beings create a host of new places to build nests–like the Peregrine Falcons that nested on the side of a skyscraper in downtown Seattle a few years back. In this case we attempted to artificially help out the Peregrines–by providing a location for them intentionally.
While it is our intention for us to be the ones that live in our homes–we sometimes inadvertently build into our homes perfect places for birds to build their homes too (there are those dang unintended consequences again). This is especially so if we leave holes big enough for them to get in, or holes they can make bigger through their own efforts. I have found nests on tops of deck support beams, on top of light fixtures, inside insulating foam covers of outside faucets, inside missing or open exhaust vents, inside chimneys, inside electrical mast weather-heads, and on all manner of soffit structures.
Just recently I found where some lucky bird made a home in a mail box.
Usually this works out fine–and the next generation flies off into the sunset with no ill effects–other than perhaps to piss off some homeowner. It is not the poor bird’s fault–they are just doing what they are programmed to do.
At a recent inspection I found this porch light fixture with one side of the glass missing.
“What a PERFECT place to build a nest,” some poor bird likely thought! The light bulbs are CFL’s that do not get quite as hot as incandescent bulbs so the risk of burning up the nest is not likely to be an issue like it would otherwise. So far so good–perhaps the unintended consequences will once again be kept at bay.
I think turning the light into an “incubator” may not be such a good idea. While mamma bird might like a break from lying on the eggs, this might not be a good way to achieve that goal, as the two bulbs would still likely generate too much heat. Most likely this nest of eggs never got to hatch–most likely the young birds never got to fly off into the sunset–or follow mamma back south.
Of course they could have gotten lucky enough that the homeowner never turned on the light for a few weeks.
In my own mind the homeowners were vacationing wherever mamma bird flew north from.
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
If you enjoyed this post, and would like to get notices of new posts to my blog, please subscribe via email in the little box to the right. I promise NO spamming of your email! 🙂