Weekend Birding: Fledgling House Wrens
The nestling House Wrens emerged from their nestbox right on schedule early Thursday morning, 15 days after they hatched. I watched the box on and off on Wednesday in case I was wrong about the hatch date and was able to get some nice shots of the parents feeding the already large babies. Wrens eat insects so that’s what was on the menu.
Both parents worked tirelessly in the 100F degree heat feeding three hungry babies all day. I was very proud of the dad who stayed with his mate and didn’t run off to start a second family as sometimes happens with wrens.
Here’s one of the parents with a bug. Not sure whether this was the male or female. Once the female stops sitting on the nest I can only tell by sound. They look the same. The male sings, the female makes a chattering noise. (No comments from the men about female chatter!)
There were three babies in the box continuously jockeying for position at the door. Once they begin hanging out the nestbox opening, fledging is a day or so away. When wrens leave the box, they usually pop out one after another and are gone in minutes. The last two years I did not see them leave so I was determined to get photos this time.
I set my alarm for 6am on Thursday morning. Yes, 6am, ugh. I was that sure they were going to leave. At 6:50am I spotted a tiny bird on the fence. I grabbed my binoculars… yes, it was a fledgling. A second bird popped out of the box as I was grabbing my camera and running out the door. By the time I got set for a shot, all three had left the nest and were trying to fly. With those tiny little tails it’s not easy.
One of them was nice enough to pose for me before taking off for a nearby pine tree. I could hear the dad singing from a tree in the distance calling them to follow him. They began flying from tree to tree and within minutes they were gone.
Wrens usually don’t come back to visit or hang out in the yard like House Sparrows, Robins or Doves, so I probably won’t see them again. They head to a wooded area where the babies can grow and mature. In September or October they will migrate to a warmer climate south of the frost line where they can readily find insects. In the spring the males will return to the same area and being searching for nesting sites. The females arrive a few weeks later and are attracted by the male’s song.
I had a nestbox up for a few years before the wrens found it. Now they return every year. If you want to attract wrens, the entrance hole to the box should be no larger than 1⅛ inches. Anything larger and House Sparrows will claim the box.
Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.
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