This year has been different. We had a warm spell in early April and I put the box out early, after reading reports of house wrens arriving in areas of the state south of my town. But it seemed a day or so later the winds turned and started blowing from the northeast, blocking the northbound migrants (and making the area colder than normal).
That changed on Friday, May 10, when the winds finally turned again and brought warm weather out of the south. That morning, I awoke to the bubbly call of a house wren in the backyard. I came downstairs and found it investigating the box. When I went on my walk, I took the long way home and managed to find - no lie - seven different types of warblers: myrtle, several parulas, a couple of black and whites, a couple of American redstarts, a yellow, a common yellow-throat and my first-of-season black-throated blue.
If you swap the blue for a palm warbler, these are the same birds I managed to find over many hours and much traveling over parts of Great Swamp a couple of weeks ago, when migrants were few and far between. This day, they were all within a half-mile of each other.
With a good tailwind, the birds came and the birders of New Jersey rejoiced.
Today, the house wren was bringing sticks to the box, getting on a branch every so often to sing his heart out. Males put a few twigs into the box and then brings the female around. If she likes it, she brings more twigs to build a full nest and then the laying and brooding begin.
The house wren sings one song and it sings it all day to claim his territory.
Meanwhile, I was looking out the kitchen window and saw what I first thought were three dingy goldfinches. No, I thought, that isn't right. At this time of year, the males are bright yellow with a black cap and the females are green-yellow. I looked closer and realized I was looking at three pine siskins, the first I've ever seen during spring migration rather than in winter.
They were quickly chased off by a sparrow. In turn, this bird was chased off by a more welcome visitor - a rosebreasted grosbeak.