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July 28, 2012 / Leslie

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.

© 2012 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.

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35 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Cipriano / Jul 28 2012 1:15 am

    To get so close is really amazing.
    These are terrific shots.
    The second-to last [penultimate] pic….. why does that bird remind me of Winston Churchill?

    Like

    • Leslie / Jul 28 2012 11:43 am

      The bird house is on my garage and the birds were accustomed to me being in the yard so I was able to get fairly close.

      Like

  2. Vicki / Jul 28 2012 1:37 am

    What amazing photos! Good job!!

    Like

  3. Kailana / Jul 28 2012 1:39 am

    These are awesome pictures! What a great experience. 🙂

    Like

  4. Christine Harding / Jul 28 2012 2:11 am

    The fledgling waiting to fly looks awfully glum and grumpy! The detail on the plumage in your photos is so detailed. My Snapshot is at http://goo.gl/5WXI0

    Like

    • Leslie / Jul 28 2012 11:52 am

      Most baby birds look like grumpy old men. It’s because their beaks haven’t fully grown yet.

      Like

  5. Louise / Jul 28 2012 2:51 am

    The early blogger gets the bird! Great shots there Leslie, and such an interesting read. I love that close up shot of the two young ones peering out of the hole.

    Like

    • Leslie / Jul 28 2012 11:52 am

      That’s my favorite one too.

      Like

  6. Mazz / Jul 28 2012 5:17 am

    Great shots, how adorable.

    Like

  7. Trish / Jul 28 2012 5:35 am

    What a great series of pictures! Amazing that they take off so suddenly like that.

    Like

  8. BermudaOnion / Jul 28 2012 6:26 am

    It looks like getting up early paid off in great photographs. That little fledgling is adorable!

    Like

    • Leslie / Jul 28 2012 12:15 pm

      I had a feeling they were going to leave as soon as it was light. They were ready the day before … lots of hanging out of the opening but not brave enough to jump.

      Like

  9. Paulita / Jul 28 2012 7:27 am

    I’m so glad you got shots of the fledglings. I wish human kids picked up new traits as easily as those little birds, but then I guess they’d leave the nest earlier too. Here’s Mine

    Like

  10. laurelrainsnow / Jul 28 2012 8:46 am

    Wow! Fabulous shots and details…I love the stories that accompany your photos. And it’s great that the wrens come back every year. Thanks for sharing.

    Here’s MY SATURDAY SNAPSHOT POST

    Like

    • Leslie / Jul 28 2012 12:09 pm

      This is the 4th year in a row they’ve nested in my yard but only the 2nd time I’ve seen the babies leave. Supposedly the males return to the same nesting area each year so I will have the boxes cleaned and ready for them in the spring.

      Like

  11. Arti / Jul 28 2012 9:05 am

    These are wonderful shots! Again, how did you get so close? With a long lens? The third one is just amazing. You’ve caught them at the right second. They look hungry indeed!

    Like

    • Leslie / Jul 28 2012 11:49 am

      I use a medium length zoom lens, 55-250mm. The trick is to make the birds forget you are there. So no standing in front of the nestbox… if you do, they stop feeding the babies. The 1st and 3rd were taken on an angle from the edge of the garage while standing next to a shrub.

      Like

  12. Melissa @ Melissa's Bookshelf / Jul 28 2012 9:27 am

    Amazing pictures — incredible detail! I love pictures of birds 🙂

    Here’s my snapshot post this week.

    Like

  13. gautami tripathy / Jul 28 2012 11:09 am

    Awesome pictures!!

    Here is my Saturday Snapshot post!

    Like

  14. mostraum / Jul 28 2012 1:21 pm

    Great series of pictures again. So interesting to hear about the wrens too.

    Like

  15. Amy Peveto (@AmyPeveto) / Jul 28 2012 2:09 pm

    That baby does NOT look happy to have to leave the nest. Glad you got some good shots this year!

    Like

    • Leslie / Jul 28 2012 2:45 pm

      They’re never thrilled to leave, and once they are out they can’t get back in the box again.

      Like

  16. dyane / Jul 28 2012 3:04 pm

    Well done! You got the shot

    Like

  17. cherylmahoney / Jul 28 2012 4:38 pm

    Wow, that’s a crazy wing in the first shot! Always fun to hear the bird stories.

    Like

  18. Suko / Jul 28 2012 5:42 pm

    Wonderful photos!

    Like

  19. Susan @ Buch Handling / Jul 28 2012 6:37 pm

    Oh, how I love house wrens … that glissando chortling song of theirs is just magical! Like water over the waterfall! Excellent photos!!!!!!!

    Like

  20. lmkazmierczak / Jul 28 2012 8:06 pm

    So glad your persistence paid off♫♪ Remarkable post!

    Like

  21. Barbara The Healthy Nut / Jul 28 2012 9:50 pm

    I would love to have a camera that would take photos like these -close-ups of birds. I love them. Fledges are the best!

    Like

  22. lakesidemusing / Jul 28 2012 9:51 pm

    The birds must have become accustomed to your presence…great shots!

    Like

  23. edgar / Jul 29 2012 2:01 am

    Your patience in waiting for the great shots was well rewarded.

    Like

  24. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea / Jul 29 2012 6:48 am

    What sweet shots and detail leslie. Have a great week.

    Like

  25. sim@chapter1-take1 / Jul 29 2012 6:10 pm

    So lovely! You’ve captured the miracle perfectly.

    Like

  26. Alyce (@AtHomeWithBooks) / Jul 30 2012 10:47 pm

    That little bird is just the cutest! I’m so glad you were able to get a photo of him to share!

    Like

  27. Gina reeves / Apr 26 2016 11:36 am

    Can someone PLEASE contact me about house wrens I have fledglings that will 100% be eaten by 4 stray cats if they are just hopping around my yard! I don’t know what to do! Joeginareeves@gmail.com

    Like

    • Leslie / Apr 26 2016 12:33 pm

      Fledglings can fly when they leave the nest and usually head for a tree, fence, or rooftop. They don’t go to the ground. If the parents sense danger in the yard they will move them along quickly to a place of safety.

      Like

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