Wildlife Wednesday: May 2016

Carolina Wren
Carolina Wren

April brought signs our drought may finally be a local history item.  We spent many evenings with windows wide open listening to the drama of thunderstorms. Cool fresh air flowed into the home and I remembered I am alive. Outside, the vegetation is so lush with water I can at last believe we live in a subtropical climate.

Evening twilight brings spectacular firefly shows. A blip of light here, another there and then the whole area flashes at once. The rhythm is reminiscent of raindrops but instead of falling the light blips reach up toward the stars. I have never seen so many fireflies in one place. One little guy managed to come into the house. I spotted him pretending to be a fridge magnet. I was tempted to leave him there.

The mockingbirds are singing their spring songs again and now that I am starting to learn more about bird calls it is fun trying to recognize the plagiarized notes.

Last month I intended to document the development of a wasp colony. No luck there. Someone ate the whole thing overnight. But I have been given a second chance to affirm my standing as The Worst Naturalist Ever. Just inches from my kitchen sink a pair of Carolina Wrens started visiting a window box on the ledge. I hardly dared hope. Everyone knows they like to make false starts when it comes to nest building. But for more than a week they kept returning with tiny building materials.

I know there is a nest somewhere under the leaves but this bird family must have some kind of Romulan cloaking device. Though I’ve searched I can’t actually see it.

About 5 feet away from the nest is a redbud tree. Every ten minutes or so the male bird will alight. He arrives with a song. The bird books say he calls: Germany Germany Germany. My husband hears Jeremy Jeremy Jeremy. I am almost certain he means: Cheerily Cheerily Cheerily. Whatever the word is the message seems clear. He is calling to his baby birds. If everything looks safe he teleports down, slips under the begonia leaves and delivers something with a lot of legs. Then he pops back up to the redbud. Before he takes off he “Cheerily cheerily” promises to be back soon. I hear the babies make the softest whistling noises back at him in return. Heart melt.

They are so well behaved. I mostly hear their little whistling when their parents are near or when we accidentally wake them up by turning on the kitchen light at night.

Momma bird forages too but she tells them a different story: ch ch ch ch ch. Not to be confused with the angry chchchchch delivered to the cat.

I imagine their world is one of comforting parent sounds but they surely hear all the background noises too. Mysteries like the whooshing noise of cars, the loud sounds of people talk and music, dishes in the sink, various bird calls, an airplane … the retching noises of doves … (haha)

But mostly I can imagine their hunger. These little creatures will be fully grown in less than a month. Their parents already look bedraggled. Yesterday the wee ones started to call out their hunger even when their parents were not near. I want to warn them about accidentally attracting blue jays or snakes. I want to yell out to the parents: Hurry, hurry, your babies are hungry! But of course they know that already. So I decided to make some bird cookies to put in the suet cage. If there is food nearby maybe this will give them all some relief. Hope their parents find them though these particular cookies look so horrifying one wonders how anyone could possibly miss them. I added mealworms to a typical bird suet recipe. And yeah that totally squicks me out. Like, I think I am going to sterilize the wooden spoon about 17 times.

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Carolina Wren

Even though I see them every ten minutes I have no good photos to share. The screen on the window distorts everything and I don’t want to stress them out by lurking near their nest. The above photos are recycled oldies.

I suspect most people come to these blogs looking for eye candy so thanks for listening. For a really good photo of these wrens and other lovely things I recommend Tina’s My Gardener Says where she and others do the Wildlife Wednesday thing with a lot more panache.