Monday, May 24, 2010

Carolina Wrens' Umbrella Nest

Today's dilemma: Do I let the Carolina wrens continue building a nest on top of the table umbrella? We hadn't used the umbrella since Friday, and by Sunday, I noticed that wrens carrying twigs and leaves were busy flying into the ficus tree on the back porch, then hopping upwards into the corner of the eaves.

A peek outside the door revealed a nest under construction. I give the wrens high marks for energy (as always) but rather a low grade for nest design. It looks like a small, sloppy leaf pile. Perhaps wrens prefer comfort to style. A quick look in Charlotte Hilton Green's "Birds of the South" confirms the impression - the author notes that "wren families have been raised in the pockets of old coats, in old cups, broken gourds, discarded basins."
As I write this, I realize I already am attached to the idea of the wrens nesting there. I adore Carolina wrens.  Fearless and curious, they investigate everything new in the yard. They seem to have an affinity for anything man-made - shoes, buckets, garden tools, rain barrels. An open shed door is an invitation to enter.

An attractive brown with yellow breast, the Carolina wren usually has an upturned tail as it perches or hops around investigating. I often identify its singing simply by sheer volume - as the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology says, it has "one of the loudest songs per volume of bird." It seems to have dozens of different songs, which it sings like a stage pro, with head thrown back and beak opened wide.

So I'll make the trade - lunches on the back porch in the shade of the umbrella for the pleasure of watching these little birds raise a family. Not too difficult a decision, as rains of the last week produced a side effect - mosquitoes.

1 comment :

AJF67 said...

I hope you left the wrens nest. When I was young, a robin built a nest in the window ledge outside my room. I would pull the blind back slightly and watch. She had chicks and I would watch her feed them.

They were nearly at the flying stage when all was disrupted by my mother, who flung the window open one day while she was cleaning. I closed the window, and waited because the mother bird had flown away and left the nest. After about an hour, she returned and I got to continue watching her raise the birds for the next week or so. Then, one day when I came in they were all gone.

The bad part was cleaning up the nest and listening to my mother complain that "birds carry lice and all kinds of things..." etc. But I'd do it again if one built a nest in my window. It was great.