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.

DSCN2259
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.

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16 thoughts on “Wildlife Wednesday: May 2016

  1. What a sweet read. Some times a few hundred words are a fine trade for a photo, if I might be pardoned for twisting the metaphor.

    Weeks ago we had wrens build a nest above the door we typically use to access a back deck. I corralled family members into using an alternate route only to discover the wrens had either abandoned or more probably never used the nest to lay eggs in the first place. Of the trial nests built, the over-the-door version just didn’t make the cut for Momma Bird it seems. Maybe next year!

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    1. eep. So sorry for the tardy reply. If they liked your yard this year, they will probably check it out again next year and maybe find a spot that works. I found out that they are a bit territorial.

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  2. I loved reading this, please don’t apologise! Maybe you could keep a separate spoon for the bird cookies? But wood is a natural steriliser so I think you’ll be safe.

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    1. haha That’s just me being irrational and silly. We went from vegetarian to vegan this year. So it is kind of funny that the only ones eating any animal protein around here are the birds and the cat.

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  3. Glad to hear you have had ample rain at last. Your descriptions of the fireflies was wonderful – I do love to see them when ours come in June. They are happier and more active after a rain, so I can see why yours are celebrating. Good luck with your little wren family, I hope they all make it before a critter notices their whistling.

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    1. I am bracing myself for disaster because mathematically I know the odds are not in their favour. The rain has been SUCH a relief. Unspeakable. Thanks, Eliza.

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  4. What a nice description of your wrens. We’ve seen them a few times in the winter. Now I have more to think about when I see them again. I like those bright eyebrow lines.

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  5. So gorgeous this post–so full of spring hope and love for all the outdoors and those who live in it. I’m impressed by so much: that you’d make suet treats for the wrens–that’s gotta be a hard one for you. :) I loved your photos. I really need to get meal worms for my various birds–thank you for reminding me! And thanks for joining in this month–always a pleasure.

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    1. The suet. I didn’t go all the way with tallow but I did buy some lard. And yeah. Seeing all those cookie like ingredients with mealworms instead of say walnuts was just visually horrendous. Thanks for hosting! This is my favourite internet event.

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  6. What a really thoughtful and beautifully written post Debra, you had me enthralled throughout. Please stop saying you are the worst naturalist, you are defiantly one of the most thoughtful. Last night we went on Dusk bird song walk with our local wildlife Trust group, the guide tried to help us hear the various songs, he also said its now thought birds learn their song as well as it being intuitive, which results in birds of the same species having different songs and some birds being able to mimic other birds songs. Good luck to your Wrens!

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    1. I am totally happy with owning the Worst Naturalist Ever. All pressure is off when the bar is set low. I have heard there are regional variations in bird song and I think that is really cool. I’ll just bet that bird walk was marvellous.

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