Perhaps you can solve the mystery of what has been happening to our front door mat. Something has been either tearing at or eating away at this mat, as you can see in the picture. At first I thought it might be the work of a skunk or a raccoon, but now I am wondering if certain birds are doing it. I did see a bird fly away once from that general area. I suppose it would make for good nesting material, but it would have been awfully hard to initially pull it apart like this. Are birds that strong?
Bill Johnson, Walnut Creek, California
Looks like birds to me. There’s a lot of strength in those beaks. I’ve observed birds pulling on plastic window screens until they fray so they can use that material in their nests, and that stuff is a lot tougher than your door mat. I’ve also seen bird nests made out of plastic bags, which certainly improved their waterproofing. The Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek also has a crow’s nest made of electrical wire that was found in the attic of a building under construction. Birds seem to be adapting quite well to living in urban and suburban areas. That’s why I call our backyards, the “Urban Wilderness.” /Gary