Somehow, to me the title of this post sounds like a fine title for a children’s book. It would be a sort of “Goodnight Moon,” only about birds.
A few days ago I was gazing out my bathroom window at the Hosta Dell, as I am wont to do. It is a view that particularly pleases me. These shots were taken several years ago, but it looks much like this now, although the hostas have really filled in.
Note the bird house on the left post of the pergola. That is a wren house, and there is a pair of wrens that has “owned” it for several years.
Part of the reason I like to look out the bathroom window is I can watch and listen to the goings on without having my presence disturb the tenants. It is quite amusing. The redbud on the other side of the fence is the vantage point where the male wren proclaims his territory. The pergola and shrubs nearby are great hunting grounds for all sorts of bugs, as is the Hosta Dell itself.
A few days ago I heard all sorts of commotion going on out there, so I took a peek and discovered that the rock ridge has attracted a resident, an Eastern Chipmunk. Although I have no idea what the sex of this rodent is, I shall refer to it as “he” for the purposes of this story.
Said chipmunk was over near the fence where there are rail road ties that keep the gravel of the rock garden from migrating under the fence and into the front yard. The ties are pretty old and decrepit, and have lots of rot in the center, places where maple seeds and other edibles tend to collect. So he was investigating the possibilities for breakfast and suffering through a proper dressing down from the Papa wren, who was bouncing along the top of the fence and generally making his displeasure known in no uncertain terms.
This intrigued me, as I could not see what danger a chipmunk could possibly pose to the wren family. My amazement grew as I observed the wren take a couple of dive bomb runs at the chipmunk’s head. He took cover in a crack in the railroad tie, and I settled in to watch the proceedings. The wren was not deceived by the disappearance of the chipmunk, and sat on the fence proclaiming “You’re not fooling anyone, you know!” Eventually the chipmunk stuck his head out and began looking for maple seeds, an activity I heartily endorse. The more he eats the less there will be sprouting in my garden. I wish he would eat cherry pits.
The wren was having none of it, however, and once again flew down intrepidly and pecked the hapless chipmunk on the head. He gave up on breakfast and dashed across the rock garden to his front door, pursued by the wren.
For the life of me, I could not understand what was the big deal about the chipmunk. It wasn’t a cat, or anything I perceived as predatory. Curious, I repaired to Google and looked up chipmunks. Suddenly it all became clear. The chipmunk, eater of seeds and other vegetarian sorts of things, is not so innocent. It turns out they are opportunistic predators and will eat bird eggs and fledglings if they are convenient. They have been observed to climb trees to get to nests of eggs.
Suddenly the wren’s attitude did not seem quite so odd. The wren is a very small bird, and the fledglings would make a tasty morsel for a hungry chipmunk.
Wrens ARE very small, and one year I observed a blue jay attempting to eat a freshly fledged wrenlet. It was only because I intervened and liberated the chick from the jaws of death (literally) that his nefarious plan was foiled.
I suppose this post could be entitled “Wrens do not like much of anybody” as pretty much everyone is a potential predator when you are that small. I have been keeping my eye on the wrens for a couple of weeks. I have been listening to the chicks get louder and more demanding as the days go by, and I was hoping to catch the fledging.
Today was the magic day: They fledged this afternoon. No wonder it was so loud in that bird box. The proud wren parents managed to raise up FIVE little wrens. I discovered them in the snowball bush at the far end of the stroll garden (far from where the chipmunk lives!). All five of them were grouped in a nice organized troop on one branch. Of course I did not have my camera, so I ran to get it.
Mama wren is no dummy. She saw me looking at her kids and knew the jig was up. By the time I got back to the location with the camera, she had started marshaling them in a different direction. There were still three in the snowball bush, but they were moving away fast, urgently directed towards safety by their mama. However, I did manage to get a great shot of one of them in the snowball bush.
One of his siblings had ensconced itself in the clematis.
Another one was in the beach plum bush, but that picture was very blurry due to the fact that the wind was blowing and the little bird was not still enough for a good shot in the shadows.
But another one of the chicks got very excited by the whole thing and flew over the fence into the forsythia by the pond. Immediately the parents went ballistic, telling it that it was too far away and it should just get it’s little butt back over to the group. Obediently, he returned from his foray and perched on the fence, where I got a delightful portrait. “What are you looking at?” he seems to be saying. “My mother told me not to associate with strangers, you should go away.”
The mother wren seconded his sentiments, emphatically. So I left them to it.
In other news, the second round of robin babies have hit the ground. I had a new heuchera to plant, and I had sat the pot out under the pergola to await my attentions while I gave a couple of massages. When I returned to my chore, I reached down to grab the pot and discovered that while I was gone it had been graced with an inhabitant. Again, I ran off for the camera. Can you see it?
How about now?
That bird child was the noisiest little bugger! I scooped him up to put him on the spirea bush while I dealt with transplanting the heuchera, and the screeching that the little bird put up was impressive.
“I’m being molested, kidnapped, help! help! help!” was the burden of his extremely loud complaints.
I expected his parents to come to his aid, but what I did not expect was every male robin in the yard. They ALL came over and started yelling at me. There were at least five male robins, a female (probably the baby’s mother). Even more surprising was that a gold finch and both wrens gave me what for right along with the robins. Avian solidarity, I guess.
I put my head down and planted my plant, and then got the heck out of Dodge while my eyes were still in my head.
Life at The Havens is never dull!