|wren's nest under deck stairs|
|The opening of the nest is on the left.|
This is the second year we have observed this nest. Last year, there was only one fledgling.
|wren's nest fledgling 2010|
From the coloring and size, I don't think that fledgling was a wren. I believe it was a cowbird.
|adult wren feeding cowbird fledgling 2010|
When I noticed that it had fledged, I tried to find it in the yard. I found it about 40 feet from the nest on a low limb of a small tree.
|fledgling not far from nest 2010|
The foster parents continued to feed it all day long. It moved very slowly. I caught a glimpse of it the next day about 20 feet from the last perch.
|foster wren parent feeding cowbird fledgling|
Back to this year...
The wren's nest under the deck stairs is a bit tricky to get to for the wrens. They manage but it seems like they struggle somewhat. So, I set up a thick long branch near the entrance to make it easier. I had placed the short trellis under the stairs temporarily because I had moved a vining plant elsewhere, however the wrens began to use it as they found food on the ground and hopped up the trellis to the makeshift branch.
|branch in front of wren's nest|
The wrens learn to use the branch almost right away. It seems a lot easier to get to the nest.
|wren on twig in front of nest entrance|
|wren preparing to fly over to nest|
Besides trying to be helpful to the wren parents, I also wanted to protect them from my cats who go outside in the yard with me in the early morning. They hear the nestlings when the parents arrive for a feeding. The branch by the wren entrance seemed to help with that as well, making it easier for them to navigate their arrival and departure from the nest. I always kept my eye on the nest to be sure neither of the cats bothered it. Mostly, the cats roam around the yard finding other things of interest. Simba is 16 and is not as interested in the hunt as he used to be. Sasha, six years old, would hover around the nest from time to time. Whichever wren parent happened upon her was very cautious. He or she would loudly let her know she was not welcome.
|Sasha and Simba eyeing the wren's nest on the right|
|It was a bit chilly this particular morning, so they cuddled close.|
This year, there were five wren nestlings.
|wren nestlings with open mouths for feeding|
I apologize for the blurry photos as it was a bit challenging to take a photo from the side of the nest.
At first, I thought there were only four nestlings from the photo, but I soon learned there were a total of five. Mother and Father wren continued feeding the nestlings every few minutes.
|wren entering the nest to feed nestlings|
|adult wren leaving nest after feeding young|
A few days later, one of the nestlings crawled out of the nest. He continued crawling around the area in front of the nest. He would not respond to the parents when they arrived with food. I feared the worst. And then, I came down later to check on them and saw him laying upside down on the outside of the nest. He was still breathing and moving.
|sick wren nestling|
Although my heart wanted to reach out and help in some way, there was really nothing I could do. I also feel it is not a good idea to interfere. This is nature's way, I suppose. The next day he was gone. Four nestlings left.
|nestlings wait to be fed|
|getting bigger and bigger everyday|
They are getting large enough to hop around the outside of the nest.
|wren nestlings becoming more active|
As they became more active, I knew they were getting ready to fledge. Because there is a concrete patio below the nest, I put towels down to cushion the blow somewhat should a nestling fall out of the nest.
|bare concrete beneath the wren's nest|
The day before they fledged, there was an awful smell...that 'something's dead' smell coming from the nest. Flies were also congregating. I called some experts to find out if it would be acceptable to remove the dead bird. After getting the okay, I wondered how I was going to get the dead bird out without disturbing the other three. Luckily, when I went down to the nest, all three nestlings were sitting outside the entrance to the nest. I slowly and gently reached in and found the dead nestling. He was, indeed, dead. Three nestlings left.
|three wren nestlings|
This year, the nestlings were definitely wrens. I could see the telltale markings on the head and wings.
This is the last photo I have of them. They fledged that afternoon. After I discovered that they had fledged, I looked around the yard to see if I could find them. I found them at the edge of the yard about 50 to 60 feet from the nest. When I look for the fledglings, I look and listen for the parents because they bring food to them. I followed the parents call and two feet from my feet on the leaves in the woods were three very small fledglings sitting about six or seven inches from one another. They were very still and quiet--probably because of me--and were very well camouflaged. I wish I could have captured that photo, but when I returned they had already begun testing their wings in the woods beyond the property. They were mainly on the ground flying from low branch to tree log to low branch to the ground and all around. Sometimes they were slightly awkward in their flying skills..it was adorable. I knew this would probably be the last time I would see them as they flew further and further away, although I hoped I would see them stop by the yard from time to time. And so, I wished them well...
From time to time, I hear the parents calling the little ones or singing. They are not far from the yard...somewhere close in the nearby woods beyond our property. After watching them so closely, I feel like a godparent, always hoping they are safe as they learn to live on their own.
©Michelle A. Potter