Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Not SO Empty Nest

We are empty nesters, my husband and I. Our two offspring are grown, adults both by chronology and demonstrated capability.

Last year about this time, I reported to anybody who would listen of my ongoing encounters with Carolina Wrens who had nested in a shopping bag hanging in our garage. These wrens are notorious for rapidly building nests in unlikely and inconvenient places.

Growing up I remember my Dad leaving his garden work boots hanging for a season (he kept them off the ground to keep scorpions and spiders out) because wrens had nested in one. The next year when the wrens began to hunt again for nesting spots he wisely kept his boots inside the back door.

At our house over the years I've been kept busy discouraging wrens from building a nest in the bumper of my daughter's car the weekend before she was due home from college for Spring Break, and we spent most of one Saturday morning another year carefully helping newly fledged baby wrens that had hatched out of hanging planter on our back deck to fly up to the table and rafters - high enough to avoid the curious ministrations of our labrador retriever who typically shared that space.

The nest the wrens built last season was in a cloth shopping bag that had hung in the garage for part of a weekend when my husband emptied my car to take it to be washed and vacuumed out. I spent many adrenalized days dodging the anxious parents as they exploded out of the nest every time I entered or exited my car. We had balked at the idea we'd need to keep the main garage door up, finally arriving at a somewhat uneasy compromise where we left a back garage door window open just enough to allow the Momma and Poppa birds constant access.This year the wrens were trying to build a nest on top of the soil in a planter on our front porch, right behind a small clay St. Francis figure. The planter contains a bromeliad, and when I was forced to bring it inside due to unseasonably late freezing temperatures, I figured the empty nest that remained there had been abandoned. We left the nest alone however, because we'd read birds will reuse the materials from year to year, and it was small and sweet and certainly not harming the plant.

Earlier today, I was talking to my daughter on the phone while returning plants in their planters to their usual tables on our front porch. My husband had carefully moved them down to the sidewalk so they'd be watered by the automatic sprinkler system which was set to run to water the garden beds and yard last night.

I always try to remember to put the planters back up under the overhang before the sun gets too high in the sky to avoid sun burning the leaves. As I spoke to my daughter she remarked she could hear over the telephone the angry sounds of some Carolina Wrens, fussing away at some intruder, real or imagined. I told her I hadn't figured out where they had nested this year, but I was glad it was NOT in the garage right next to my car.

As I bent down to pick up the large bromeliad planter I noted a flash of white inside the nest that I didn't remember. I bent over closer to see and WHOOSH! Out exploded an angry wren, flying to a safer perch on an overhanging oak tree. I looked again and sure enough, some enterprising wren couple had relined the nest with what looks like hair, and there are 2-3 tiny spotted eggs inside.I am optimistic the parents will return to continue incubating their baby wren eggs. I am fairly sure they will. They continued their parental duties last year despite the ongoing insult of my taking my car in and out of "their" garage. My husband and I have agreed to leave the planter in place now and I will carefully hand water the bromeliad in a way that ought not overly disturb the nest. This also means we will have baby wrens at some future point hopping all around our front porch, learning to fly, while their anxious parents hover close by, calling and fussing and warning away all intruders.

For just a while here, we will be at least sharing a full nest. What a pleasant way to start out the day after Earth Day!

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About Me

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Rollingwood, Central Texas
Family historian by default. Oldest surviving matriarch on my branch of the Family Tree. Story teller, photo taker, gardener, cook, blabbermouth.