Sheltered Islander: Shelter Island Real Estate Is for the Birds

Shelter Island birdhouses
Shelter Island real estate is for the birds, Photo: sauletas/iStock/Thinkstock

A cool, sweet morning breeze wafts through the big maple tree near the North Ferry, where sits the distinguished Chuck Chickadee. Chuck is the owner of Shelter Island Realtree. It’s spring and birds are flying in from as far away as Southold to get a tree for the season.

“Hey, you made it! I’m Chuck. We tweeted earlier.”

“Hi, Chuck. I’m Ray. This is my mate, Marie. We’re expecting our first egg soon and heard this was a great place to raise a little peeper, or little pecker if it’s a boy.”

“Absolutely. We got poplar trees, ash, bamboo stands and maple. May I ask, Miss Marie, when is your due hour?”

“Tomorrow, around four in the afternoon.”

“We got plenty of time and selection. What are we looking for? Bare branches, build from scratch, or fixer-upper nest, or refurbished and ready to sit? And tree preference?”

“Show us your fixer uppers. I can twig and tuft anything. Marie likes poplar, but I’m a maple guy. My whole family tree is maple.”

“Can’t ever go wrong with maple. We’ll talk as we fly. I got two maples overlooking sidewalk eateries. You can see what they order from above, swoop in for crumb collection as soon as they get up. Here we are. And look there, whaddaya know, half a croissant on the sidewalk.”

“It looks good, Chuck, and for how much?”

“Please, we’re all adults here, you’re cardinals, you can get this for a song. I can’t put birds like blue jays here, they just screech and drive off eatery customers, but everybody loves a songbird.”

“This is definitely on the list. Any chance we could look at Cardinal Pointe? Marie can trace her family tree to those original pioneers.”

“Ah, yes. Cardinal Pointe at 4 Worthy Way. Winter of ’98, that writer, Flynn, became famous from the North Ferry to the South Ferry. Eighteen cardinal couples she fed. Songbird seed mix so deep the cardinals had to help each other wade through it. When they pecked the sliding glass door for more, she brought it. She was one of those rare people with a true bird brain. We’ll visit there last. There have been some new cat sightings and we are finishing a cat scan right now. I want to show you a beautiful stand of maples next to a flower garden. You know what that means—worms for your chicks. There’s a communal bird bath, and recently certified cat free. Here, both of you carry a string and follow me to the transit platform.”

Chuck Chickadee and the lovely young cardinal couple land on the giant osprey platform at the end of Ram Island Drive. A scruffy-looking old osprey with a six-foot wingspan waves them onto his platform.

“Ray, Marie, this is Big Joe, he runs this transit station. Give him your string. Is it still three inches for one way and six inches round trip, Joe?”

“Yup. Drop your strings here, get in line over there, you’ll just make this transit flight to Ram Island.”

“What’s this about, Chuck?”

“The seagulls control this road. They fly high and anything that might crack open and have food. You don’t want to be flying under an airborne clam heading straight for your head. So the osprey pay them in nesting materials to hold off while 20 non-gulls fly through.”

“And the gulls obey the osprey? I never heard of gull obeying anyone. And what do the osprey get?”

“Gulls, and all Island birds, obey osprey because if you don’t, you become something the osprey call lunch.”

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