Well, after reading Mary’s comment this afternoon, I had to go out and see what exactly what the strands of material were in the bird’s nest that the kids and I had seen on Monday.

Alex wanted to do some tree-climbing, so he agreed to go out and take a look with me after I got home from the office.  The tree that the nest was in did not have any branches low enough to allow him to climb it, so I hoisted him up on my shoulders and told him to pull a strand of the material off the nest… gently.  And he did.  It looked to me exactly like Easter grass, but it had these weird lateral stripes that alternated between colorless and blue.  Having collected that, and with plans of showing it to Mary and others to get their opinions, we set off for one of Alex’s new favorite climbing trees.  While he was making his way up the tree, I was pondering what the material from the nest might be, and surveying the landscape around us, when what to my wandering eyes should appear, but a chain link dog kennel with a frayed tarp hanging off it.  I practically screamed to myself with excitement, borrowing a turn of phrase from Admiral Ackbar: “It’s a tarp!!!!!”

I went over, and upon closer inspection, this tarp was undoubtedly the source of the strands in the Rural St. nest.   So Mary was mostly right, the strands were indeed from a tarp, but not from her tarp several hundred yards away, but from this one that as best I could tell from pacing off the distance was about 75 yards away from the nest, as the crow — or whatever kind of bird this was — flies.  Here is a closeup of the fraying tarp:

Later this evening, I taped the strand that we had garnered from the bird’s nest into Alex’s nature book, so that it wouldn’t get lost:

It was thrilling to unravel this mystery (thanks, Mary!), but even more exciting are the realizations that this was found within 100 yards of our very own back yard and that there are many more wonders of this sort that lurk around about us, if we would only take the time to pay attention to our surroundings.