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August 29, 2013 / Rae Spencer

The Empty Nest

The house wrens’ nestlings fledged this week. They fledged while I was busy doing other things, and I regret missing the moment of their departure. (For more about the house wrens, see herehere, and here.)

Wren August 4

During the last two months, our little family of birds have been a constant source of amusement and amazement. At first the male worked alone, a tiny bustle of feather and song. Then his mate arrived, bristling with scolds. Together they transformed the nest box into a vessel seemingly immune to the laws of physics. They stuffed it with so many twigs that it should have burst at the seams or collapsed into a singularity. Instead it rocked gently in the wind as eggs were laid, as the first male lost control of the box and his eggs were destroyed, and as he reclaimed the box and eggs were laid again.

Wren August 14

In early August, the eggs hatched.

Wren August 15

Wren August 14

As the nestlings’ voices grew more and more insistent, the wrens again defied physics. They expended so much energy, feeding their young, that both birds should have grown weak and thin.

Wren August 14

Wren August 14

Among the insects I recognized, there were caterpillars, moths, katydids, and crickets.

Wren August 23

Wren August 23

The yard should have run out of insects, but it didn’t.

Wren August 23

Wren August 24

I don’t know how many nestlings they were feeding. More than the box should have been able to hold, wedged in with all of those twigs.

Wrens August 22

Wrens August 22

Wrens August 22

Wrens August 22

Wrens August 22

Then, around mid-morning on August 26th, I found the box abandoned.

I want to believe that I’ve heard the fledglings, in the days since, begging from deep within the wax myrtle, or from the neighbors’ yards, or across the street. I want to believe I would recognize them if they returned to the yard, which seems unnaturally quiet now.

Perhaps they will return next year, all grown up and beyond recognition. Perhaps they will fill the yard, once more, with songs and scolds. Fill the nest box with twigs and eggs, and, in the process, fill me with more delight than I should be able to hold.

5 Comments

  1. Donkey Whisperer Farm / Aug 29 2013 8:23 PM

    I always miss my baby birds when they fly away!

  2. tracytee / Aug 29 2013 11:45 PM

    wow! amazing! can i ask, how did you make the bird house? it makes me want to make one too, but then again, i’ll be heading off to uni in a few weeks. 😦

    • Rae Spencer / Aug 30 2013 12:15 PM

      I downloaded a few different plans from online resources (see here and here), made several mistakes as I measured and cut the wood, then put it together in the best approximation of the designs I could manage. 🙂 The US Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Program has a great page about bird houses, here’s a link. And, don’t be sad about going off to school! Have fun!

      • tracytee / Aug 31 2013 6:19 PM

        o.o wow, that sounds cool. maybe ill ask my dad to help me. thanks for the links!

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