Thursday, July 2, 2009



This spring I went to take my work bushel-basket off my shed porch wall and as I lifted it down I noticed some extra weight to it plus some odd twigs peeking by the edge. Oh --- maybe I have a new tenant? I looked into the basket and there was a beautiful Carolina Wren’s nest.

The nest was empty but freshly made as the lichens used in its construction were as fresh as a dinner salad. The lichens were mixed mainly with pieces of weeds, old leaf litter, and tiny twigs making a great nest for a new beginning.


One thing was a bit odd about the nest. It had a landing pad leading up to the nest -- one obviously built by the wrens. The pad was made of the same materials as the nest. I had read someplace that sometimes Carolina Wren nests have landing pads. I don’t really have an answer as to why this is so.


Yet, the nest did not have any eggs nor young birds. Apparently the nest was just short of completion. My guess was that the mother wren was in the process of lining the depression in the inside of the domed shaped nest. Although the male and female both construct the nest, it is the female that puts the finishing touch on the lining.

I decided, after I hung the basket back on its hook, to leave it there until I was completely sure the wrens had raised their family and were fledged.

At this point I had two concerns: one, I had scheduled a workman to work on the shed (saws, hammers, noise) and two, the neighbor cats that are constantly checking my field for rodents. I solved both problems by canceling the workman until all was clear and leaving my dogs outside for a good part of the day (cats are scared of Lil and Sal).



While in the yard working or relaxing, I occasionally observed the comings and goings of the wrens to their nest. Basically there seemed three phases. The first was a time of low activity. I figured this was the time of finishing off of the nest. The second period was fairly active. My thoughts were that the female was nesting on the eggs and the male was bringing her food. The last and third phase was a very active time when I figured there were many mouths to feed.

During all these three stages I had such glorious Carolina wren songs performed near my house, from sun-up to sundown. The repertoire was multiple. The male is the songster and he would sit on my porch railing and really belt them out with his head raised up like a dog howling to the moon.

Now the young wrens have left to other places. I miss the male "operettas" on my porch railings. I hear the wrens farther back in my woods and occasionally near the house. I never did see the fledglings – but my daughter Elizabeth did when she was visiting. She counted four.

Carolina Wrens are found in the eastern part of the United States -- mate and stay in the same territory for life.

For a great ID guide on bird nests I recommend the book titled Eastern Birds' Nests.


  1. I was happy to read in this blog that you "canceled progress" too insure the welfare of the wrens. Very nice and wish many others would follow this thinking in their daily lives.

  2. Thanks dedogs, Working with nature is better than working against it. -- Barbara

  3. What a sweet post! Kudos to you for giving the wren family protection and a chance to finish the nest and raise their family! They say location is the most important factor in choosing real estate, and I'd say this little wren couple found a perfect location in your bushel basket. :-) Did they return again this past summer?

    The landing pad is really quite something, I had never heard of such a thing!

    We have little house wrens here who build their nests in the most amusing places - almost every year one has built her nest in a space where our big old C-Band satellite dish is attached to its stand. There is a perfect space in there for her nest, and we joke that she likes it there because she can watch "Nature" for free. ;-) Another time I had a set of bamboo windchimes that hung from a little pagoda-like bamboo bird house. The bird house, I'm sure, was just for decoration, but a mama wren thought otherwise and built her nest there two years in a row (we got to watch her babies fledge one year, and I even video-taped it! Very exciting stuff!) The sound of the bamboo chimes didn't bother her at all... they added a nice accompaniment to her singing.

    I love wren's songs too, they're so beautiful and varied. It makes me think of a line from a song by the Be Good Tanya's... "The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs." (You can listen to a snippet of that song, The Littlest Birds if you'd like - their style is very "folk music," kind of goes well with your blog! :-)

  4. Laloofah -- I've heard and read about wrens nesting in "human" places such as old hats etc. Thought it funny that your wrens nest in a satellite dish. My daughter found some wrens trying to set up a nesting site in her garage and swiftly put their nest in a safe place outside the garage. They did not like her doing that to them. But, in reality,if they needed to eventually feed their chicks they could not get in and out easily -- only when the garage door was open.
    They eventually set up housekeeping in an empty birdfeeder. All worked out in the end with some small young ones fledging. Am going to listen to the song you linked on your comment. Have had a busy day and am just getting around to reading folks blogs. Love to do that -- such interesting folks out there -- barbara

  5. I can definitely imagine those wrens being unhappy having their lodgings moved, but I'm glad your daughter did that for them. We've had several hummingbirds and a few finches fly into our garage during summer days while our doors were open, but I've always found them and been able to catch and take them - or "herd" them - outside. I've never found anyone building a nest there before, but will have to watch for that. I'm glad the wrens found a safer spot that was to their liking and raised their family successfully!

    I can get behind on my blog reading and comments so quickly sometimes, but it is fun indeed.

    Hope you enjoyed the snippet of song. My neighbor Vistara introduced me to the Be Good Tanyas years ago. Blue Horse is the only album of theirs I have, but I enjoy it. I find it especially fun to listen to on road trips. :-)

    Speaking of folk-type music, I recently bought the CD Colonial America and really love it. I'd bought a CD by the same group called An Early American Quilt for my quilting friend Joanne for her birthday last year and loved the sound of it, too. The music puts me in mind of your blog, so I thought I'd mention it! (I'm going to be gravely disappointed if I find out you're actually into hiphop or heavy metal! LOL)

  6. Laloofah -- No I won't disappoint you by being into hiphop or heavy metal. I thought the music by Hesperus was great! I listened to all of Hesperus' samples on Amazon. In fact I am listening to one as I write this blog. I am half Irish so I particularly liked the Celtic music.

    Thanks for sending the music links and the nice comments -- barbara

  7. I had a pair of Carolina Wrens build a nest on a wire shelf I had hanging on my breezeway. I think it was in 2009 also. Their nest also had a "landing pad" which I called a "porch", "landing pad" is a better description. The parents would land on the landing pad to enter the nest. After the eggs hatched the parents would land on the landing pad and stick their heads in the nest cavity to feed the chicks. When the chicks got older they would "hang out" on the landing pad waiting for Mom & Pop to deliver the food. As they got bigger not all of them would fit on the landing pad, so one would be on top of the nest, one on the landing pad, one on the wire rack, wherever they could find to perch. I really enjoyed watching them, I had a "ring-side" seat from the kitchen. After the chicks left the nest I took it down. I wanted my breezeway back and they didn't want to share! I found your blog while I was searching for a good photo of a nest with a landing pad. I don't know where the nest is but I've noticed for the first few nights after the chicks leave the nest one always chooses to roost up in the corner of my side porch. I noticed one tonight and wanted to put an entry on my neighborhood facebook page and I wanted to show a nest with a landing pad - I took photos of the nest on my breezeway but I can't seem to find them. Enjoyed reading the entries about how the wrens like to nest. Thanks.