Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010

Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010
Photo by R.E. Berg-Andersson

Sunday, June 26, 2011

It's a brood!

It has taken several weeks but there is now a noisy brood of baby house wrens in this box.

I first realized the skittish adults had settled down earlier this week when I saw a squirrel jumping out of the apple tree where the box hangs, apple in mouth, chased by a scolding wren. The wren even pecked at the squirrel as it ran up an oak tree, no doubt to its own nest.

(This will happen alot, unfortunately. Last year I was lucky to get enough apples to make three pints of apple sauce.)

Yesterday, early, I was outside and heard soft cheeps from the box. But when an adult showed up the cheeping became more insistent.

Since then the parents have been shuttling back and forth to a loud chorus of "Feed Me!!" in wren talk. Papa wren has been too busy to do much territorial singing. Mama wren has been quick to fly to a branch near me and scold if I get too close, or even if I come out the back door to dump some compost in my corner pile.

The other day I read a post on the NJ bird list from a guy in Basking Ridge whose first reaction upon seeing a bear in his yard was to get a camera. The bear had bent over the post holding his wren house, poured out the babies and ate them.

The guy's reaction? Too bad about the wrens but here are my amazing pictures.

Basking Ridge is not far from Morris Plains as the crow flies, although it is a fair piece of walking for a 200-pound bear. Had it been me and MH had been awake I'd have yelled at him to call the cops while I grabbed two pots to make noise running at the bear to scare it off. I know, I'm stupid. (I've done something similar to chase off a buck although when it put its head down to charge me I quickly backed off.)

My feeling is, if you go to the trouble to set up a habitat to protect birds and help continue the species, you protect them as much as possible. In my yard I chase off stray cats and have been known to wave a broom at cooper's hawks to keep them from the feeders. MH says even hawks have to eat and I agree but I say, let them eat elsewhere (or at least pick off the chipmunks).

It will be another week or so before the wrenlets start venturing beyond the box. Last year one fell from the box and was immediately snatched up by a jay before I could get out the porch door. Two others survived and I hope the two or three in the box this year do, too.

When autumn comes and I take down the box and clear it I will marvel that in this tiny space an adult wren was able to build a nest, lay her eggs and then feed the growing young. It's the same feeling MH gets when he thinks about growing up in a house with two parents and two brothers and only one bathroom - how did we do it?

You did it because you had to. It's why the wrens use the box and why I put the box up in the first place, my small bit to make the world a better place.