The Nestlings

Wren May 4

A house wren began claiming the yard’s nest boxes in late April. He spent days on end carrying twigs, working on nests in each of the boxes.

Wren May 4

House Wren April 29

He clearly preferred one of the smaller boxes, and built his most elaborate nest in it. When females showed up to inspect the nests, he led them over and over again to his favorite, as if arguing its attributes.

House Wren April 29

The activity around the wren boxes was so entertaining that I almost missed a developing cardinal nest in the overhanging honeysuckle.

Cardinal May 11

Cardinal May 9

Cardinal May 11

The wren watched the cardinals’ progress with obvious interest, but didn’t seem to object.

Cardinal May 11

The cardinals quickly completed their nest, and soon there were eggs.

Cardinal May 19

May 19

Cardinal May 25

May 25

And then…

Nestling June 1

June 1

When the eggs hatched, the house wren’s interest in the honeysuckle nest increased alarmingly. (More than one source reports that house wrens sometimes destroy nearby nests, pecking holes in eggs and even killing nestlings.)

Nestling May 31

But a closer look revealed that the wren wasn’t planning to harm the nest.

Nestling May 30

He was feeding the brood.

Nestling June 1

And so were the cardinals.

Nestling May 31

I’m confused, but the cardinals, the wren, and the nestlings seem content.

Nestling June 1

Nestling May 31

The cardinals bring seeds, while the wren scours the yard for insects.

Wren May 30

And the nestlings greet either meal with enthusiasm.

Nestling May 31

I wonder if this kind of behavior is common. Have the yard’s birds been feeding each other all along?

Wrens May 3

I suppose “wonder” is the key word here, as it usually is in the yard.

Nestling June 1

11 thoughts on “The Nestlings

  1. Melissa Shaw-Smith June 8, 2015 / 8:22 AM

    Lovely observations!

  2. mylatinnotebook June 4, 2015 / 6:12 AM

    I have wren envy! We always have one stomping about the garden demanding worms. And had one nesting in a nest box last spring. This year it looked like we would have the same, and then the wren disappeared and we haven’t had sight of one for a month or so. So, I am living vicariously through you, erm so to speak….

    • Rae Spencer June 4, 2015 / 6:16 PM

      When I walked past the nest box today, I heard lots of little voices calling for food. If all goes well, there will be more wren photos later in the month! Is there a chance your wrens will come back and try again? (Our first nest, in 2013, was a late summer nest. This is the first time we’ve had an early nest work out.)

      • mylatinnotebook June 8, 2015 / 10:20 AM

        I just looked back to check the date of the post where I had a little video of our wren building the nest–it was in April 2014. Do they have more than one clutch? If so, maybe we will see some action. On the other hand, none of our nest boxes have been used this year….

        • Rae Spencer June 12, 2015 / 4:55 PM

          Our House Wrens can raise two broods a year, but the Winter Wren page at All About Birds doesn’t mention multiple broods. I suppose that means they only nest once? (And it looks like they are the closest species in North America to your wrens.) But would they necessarily have to nest in early spring? Maybe some pairs wait until later in the summer? (I want there to be a way for your wren story to have a happy ending this year…)

  3. jeanryan1 June 3, 2015 / 6:01 PM

    Enchanting things happen for those who pay attention. It seems that nature is rewarding you. Thank you for sharing these gentle treasures.

    • Rae Spencer June 4, 2015 / 7:03 PM

      Thank you for this! I often feel guilty for spending so much time watching the yard’s birds and rabbits and insects. My inner critic tries to convince me that there are more productive things I could be doing. (And there are, I’m sure.) In a way, each of my blog posts are fragments of an ongoing argument with my inner critic, attempts to prove that watching is not a waste of time. And that writing is not a waste of time. So each visit to my blog, each “like” and comment feels like a victory. Thank you!

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