Let me introduce you to some of the newest residents of my garden:
These two little wrens moved into the garden earlier this spring, built a nest, patrolled the garden for insects, hatched a brood, and have provided hours of entertainment along the way.
I started to notice their distinctive song in mid-May, and by the end of the month, both birds were spending their entire day singing and going in and out of the wren house with twigs to build their nest. Though I’ve had the wren house in the garden for over a year now, I have to admit that I really didn’t know much about them or their nesting habits, except that they have a good appetite for insects.
Our wren house is hanging from the arbor on the side of the house where I am working on establishing a permanent herb and pollinator garden. It has been a great location for them, as it gives the wrens (who are very territorial) a little space of their own, and it also allows us to observe unnoticed from inside the porch (if you notice that some of the photos are a little distorted, it’s because they were taken through the screen). I also love having a little life in the garden, as well as the benefits of insect control.
After a while the songs quieted down a bit, and were gradually replaced by a more defensive warning chirp whenever I would be working in the garden. Mama Wren keep a quiet eye on things from inside the house, while Pa Wren started to practice bringing his latest catch back to the nest.
Another couple of weeks later, and we could hear the chorus of chirps from inside the porch whenever one of the wrens would bring back a grub or moth. These guys ate a ton of bugs!
Listening to their chatter was really fascinating. They clearly have different vocalizations to communicate with each other, as well as with the new brood, who would hear the warning call, and instantly go silent.
They also provided a lot of entertainment as they would hop around the garden, gobbling up insects and perching on the fence. I got a real kick out of watching their behavior and learning their personalities. One was pretty chill most of the time, while the other was a little more high strung. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my garden space with these guys.
But of course, babies must leave the nest eventually, and I had my first clue that the time was imminent two nights ago, when I noticed that one of the little wrens had ventured outside of the house:
I watched from a distance on the steps of the deck, as the little guy tried to get his wings to carry him long enough to get back up to the house. It took him a while (and multiple attempts), but he eventually made it all the way up the arbor and back into the house, with Ma and Pa Wren protectively perched above and guiding him with a series of chirps.
And yes, I totally cheered for him when he made it back into the house.
The very next morning, all of the little wrens left the nest. I was off from work and was lucky enough to be outside watering the garden when it happened. At one point I counted 6 little wrens hopping around in the garden and testing out their wings within the confines of the herb garden. A few of them even ventured along the fence over to the vegetable garden I had just finished watering.
After a little while, the adults called them up into the Ash tree above the garden, and before I knew it, most of them had flown into the River Birch trees in our backyard.
A couple of little wrens seemed to be a little less sure about the whole flying thing than the others, and they hung back in the garden for most of the morning. They would fly short distances between perches on the fence and tomato cages, occasionally resting for a while when they were tired out (learning to fly is hard work, you guys!). The whole time one of the adults was perched on the powerline over our driveway, halfway between the garden and Birch trees, calling back and forth with the straglers. By lunch time, the last couple of little ones had joined the rest of the brood up in the trees and the whole family spend the entire day chattering and occasionally testing out their song.
They didn’t return to the nest last night, but we spotted a number of them around the yard as we enjoyed a couple of beers on the deck last night, and I heard their distinctive chatter up in the trees early this morning as I left for work. It feels so quiet in that little corner of the garden now, but it’s hard to be sad when you suddenly have six more little bug hunters patrolling the garden! Plus, there’s also a possibility that we could see another pair of wrens take over the nest and hatch a second brood in the house before they begin their fall migration.