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."
"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."
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 http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Carolina_Wren.html
Soundtrack for this post: Jerry Jeff Walker's Little Bird.