Posts Tagged ‘canyon wrens’

The wren babies fledged and left the nest on Mother’s Day, a little earlier than last year’s batch.

Once again, we were out on the back patio drinking our morning coffee at just the right moment, and had front seats for the big event.   After weeks spent feeding their noisy brood, the hard working wren parents woke this particular day and knew the time had come to introduce the kids to the rest of the world.  So they sang their yellow-beaked youngsters out of the birdhouse, calling them out one by one until all four had glided clumsily over to the shrubs, wide-eyed and chirring.

Last year the wren fledglings left their birdhouse nest and never returned.  This year’s family, which may or may not be the same breeding pair of birds, is returning every night to the nest, and the routine of calling the wren kids in at dusk and getting them settled for the night is fascinating and entertaining to watch. 

A little after sunset, Papa wren takes his post up close to the patio and sings a long, loud stanza that sounds like “ally ally out in free-ee-ee,”  over and over again, followed by a string of insistent chirrs.  It may take 10 or 15 minutes but eventually the kids show up, chirring and flitting through the backyard shrubs, and make their way up to the patio overhang to the birdhouse.  One by one, they make their way into their nest, sometimes popping back out and hopping around on the rafters a bit, but finally all four are tucked safely in for the night and their little voices go silent.

The first few days it took both parents to coax the clumsy fledglings back inside; now they’ve got the routine down and Papa wren marshalls them up by himself.  Once the kids are in bed, the two adult wrens fly off into the nearby bushes to find their own sleeping posts, or grab another bug snack, who knows.

In the morning, at daybreak, they wake them up and call them out for another day of flying and feeding instruction.

I have no idea how long they’ll continue to bed the youngsters down in the nestbox, but it’s a pleasure to watch this little vignette of daily wren family life from our front-row seats on the patio, just a few feet away.


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I’m not the only one building things around here, as it turns out.

Just six feet from the sliding glass door on our back patio, a hummingbird has chosen to construct her nest atop a very small wind chime, hanging under the eaves next to the house wall.

And at the edge of the patio, just 12 feet or so from the door, the birdhouse hung under the shade roof eaves is hosting the pair of canyon wrens for the second year in a row.  Construction is in full swing on both nests, despite my constant presence and movement in the yard as I continue to work on terracing the back hill.

I’m delighted, and honored, to have them both here.  It seems a little close to our bumbling human activity, but who am I to judge?  Birds know what birds need.  Neither species seems to be excessively bothered by our presence, carrying on with their nest-building right in front of us; we do, however, give them the courtesy of quieting down our movements when they’re up at their nests or moving to and fro. 

The canyon wrens are now at the small twig stage, having started last week with large (for them) branches, tugged into the small hole, to fill the bottom of the box.  Now they’re just bringing in short, slender twigs, I presume to finish off the inside of the nest.  Every now and then though, one of them will try to cram in a branchy twig that gets caught on the front of the birdhouse, and it’s rather comical to see how many times they’ll try to push it in against all odds.  Persistent builders, these birds.

I had to research the habits of nesting hummingbirds a bit, to find out how many eggs they lay, how long it takes to hatch them, and when the youngsters fledge.  Turns out it’s two eggs that take 16 – 18 days to hatch, and a couple more weeks for the naked hummer babies to grow feathers and figure out how to fly.  It’ll be interesting to watch, if Mrs. Hummer decides her nest location is safe enough where it is to go through with the whole process.

Last spring, just after I got back from Africa, the wrens were furiously feeding four clamerous chicks and after a few weeks, Bear and I were treated to the brief performance of the youngsters flying out of the nest box, one morning when we happened to be out on the patio at just the right moment.  It was very cool to watch.

My building project is moving along, one shovelful of excavated dirt at a time.  Update for y’all tomorrow, perhaps; the afternoon is slipping away and I must get back at it.

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