Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010

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

Saturday, July 9, 2011

This brood has flown

It was bound to happen sometime.

Things were getting loud and rambunctious at the wren box. The parents were shuttling back and forth so fast and so often I doubt they ate anything themselves. The young got so big the parents had stopped going into the box to feed them unless it was to feed one in the back, crowded out by more dominant siblings.

And the parents would not stop scolding me. All I had to do was walk out the back door and one or the other would be chittering. Much of that was to tell the young to be quiet so they wouldn't give away their position. That's instinct, although considering they were in a box I had put up in an apple tree, rather silly.

But I put up with it.

The apples in the tree where the feeder is hung were getting riper with the hot weather, and the squirrels were increasing their visits and dropping more chewed apples. This required me to go out more often to pick up the remains or pick apples I could reach before the deer came along...although based on what is under the tree my actions are also pretty silly.

Then MH and I went away for the July 4 weekend.

We came back on the 4th, a Monday this year. There were no apples on the ground when we came home but there were the next morning. The wren scolded me as usual. But on Wednesday there was silence as I picked up the apples. I reached up and shifted the box and it was as light in weight as the day I put it up.

But while out of the box the wrens have not left my yard. The male house wren will sing in the morning, particularly if the carolina wren on the next block is singing - which he does quite loudly for a small bird, to my delight.

Lately I have heard the brood but not seen them as they move among the dense shrubery. Momma wren chitters when I first come out, as if to say to her family "Be careful." But she does not come to the tree as I work. (This was a good thing because I wanted to come out and pick as many apples as I could reach or knock down with a stick, which I wouldn't do if the box was in use.)

And who knows, the male may start a second brood in the house. Wrens are not monogamous - when the young can take care of themselves, the party's over.

Whether there's one brood or two, at some point the young will start feeding themselves and will, at the right time, feel the need to head south as the air cools. With any luck one of them will remember my yard and come back.

When he returns and starts singing he will find the box - clean and empty - waiting for that year's brood.