Saturday, June 14, 2008

Into the Woods

It is official. We are empty nesters. Our babies have flown away into the woods behind the house. For the past few weeks, we have been watching the comings and goings of a pair of Carolina wrens as they built a nest and later fed the chicks in a basket of begonias hanging on our back patio.

For the past couple of weeks, we had been hearing cheeps from inside the nest. Last week, the cheeps were barely audible but over the past few days, they had been quite loud. Mama and Papa had been almost flying their wings off to keep the family fed. Some days, it was almost exhausting to watch them. There was a constant chorus of wren music. We tried looking into the plant but as it was above out heads, we could see nothing, even though we stood on a small ladder.

We were concerned about the fledging process because we did not want to let Her Dogness out of the house just in time to munch on baby wrens.

Today, as we were sitting out on the patio with Lani at our feet, we saw movement in the plant. Then, the first baby flew about four feet to the trunk of the nearest tree. Within a few moments, the next one flew out ant landed on the ground. Luckily, Lani was looking the other way. Then it hopped up on the patio and I grabbed Lani's collar just as she saw it. It hopped under one of the chairs and made several attempts to hop up onto a support bar under the chair but the bar was too thick and slick for its toes and it kept sliding off. One of the parents started calling to it from a nearby branch and it finally hopped back out into the yard. Then the next one jumped and the parents started moving farther away and calling to them. The one from the tree joined them and they all hopped farther and farther away, taking little flying jumps and they tried their wings for the first times. There was still one bird in the nest. I could see it looking out at me. It was hesitant to jump as the others got farther and farther away. I got up and took Lani in the house. One of the parents came back and encouraged it to jump and it finally did.

Mama and Papa chirped and herded the family camera and tried to get a shot of the birds but my camera has a delay and they were moving too fast.

After they were all over the fence and into the woods, I took the plant off the hook to have a look at the empty nest. It is quite a marvel of architecture and engineering. It it is a tunnel made of sticks and covered with oak blooms.

I shot this photo and returned the plant to the hook and came inside to write this post. Stephen had already come in and was back in his office. He came into the living room and was playing with Lani when I realized that Mama and Papa were back and they sounded rather upset.

"I hear the wrens again."

"I moved the nest because I'm not sure I want them to just move in and raise another family there."

"Why not?"

"I don't know."

"Where did you put it?"

"On the table."

"Why don't you hang it back up? They didn't hurt anything and they were kinda fun. Besides, a lot of work went into building that nest."

" Okay."

He goes back out and returns the plant to the hook then comes back in.

"There was another one in there."

What? I had moved the plant and did not see any baby birds. I guess it must have been hiding in the very back of the tunnel.

The plant is back on the hook and we will see what happens. In the meantime, we feel an enormous amount of appreciation for being on the patio at just the right time to see the fledges leave the nest.

I took the photo of the next down and played with the contrast in it to make it easier to see. If you click on it, it will enlarge and you can see the baby in the back of the nest. I can't believe I didn't know it was there.

Photo of wren from

Soundtrack for this post: Jerry Jeff Walker's Little Bird.


Sienna said...

How beautiful...I don't think I've ever heard the noise wren's make, didn't realise they could get so vocal.

We have our family of crested pigeons back, (nesting in winter!??).

They live with us here at the house, tolerate all the life, vehicles, dogs! and nest in a small tree just near the dog kennel housing.

They let me get very close and observe, I'm allowed to pick up the little pigeons and put them back in the nest...I got a heap of pictures last year.

I'm not sure what they consider me to be, but are getting even closer and the dogs don't concern them, and nor the pigeons worry the dogs.

Really so sweet to interact with nature, such a privilege.


stephen t said...

Carolina Wrens love to nest near people. My parents had a nest on a bookshelf in their garage one year and my Mom would close them in each night and let them out in the morning.

I've never seen babies take their first flight before and it was way cool.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

How exciting! I hope they come back again, even though I realize it will be frustrating for Lani.

When I was a child, a couple of brown thrashers built a nest in a tall evergreen shrub next to our front door and every year, they returned to raise another family. I could stand on the steps and look into their nest.

You were so lucky to see the babies take their first wobbly flights.

seventh sister said...

It seems so quiet out on hte patio now. The wrens were so vocal the last few days they were here. It seems that the other birds have left,too. I think it is just too friggin' hot for them to sing.

Marion said...

You're absolutely is exhausting watching a family of birds. It seems like such chaos, and yet, they all grow up and fly away. I'm glad you saw the fledglings's awesome!

Angela said...

What a beautiful experience!