Businesses change but peace still has a place

Five weeks after their arrival, our backyard tenants have flown the coop. Literally.

As best as we can tell, the young wrens that hatched in our birdhouse less than three weeks ago declared their independence on the Fourth of July.

We last saw them the night before, a Friday. There were at least two of them inside and they poked their beaks outside the birdhouse door, peeping as they waited for one of their parents to return with more tasty treats, mostly worms and larvae from around the yard.

On Saturday the young birds and their parents were gone, which meant that weeks of continuous activity at our red-and-blue wren house had come to an end.

The insides of the Houlihan birdhouse in Flossmoor after baby wrens left the premises on July 4. (Tom Houlihan/H-F Chronicle)
The insides of the Houlihan birdhouse in Flossmoor after baby wrens left the premises on July 4. (Tom Houlihan/H-F Chronicle)

You may recall that I wrote about the wrens’ arrival in late May.  At that time, a male wren was singing — loudly and nonstop — to attract a female to the tiny house. He was also building the potential love nest, bringing more than a hundred twigs to the modest abode and maneuvering them through the one-inch door.

I also wrote about the wrens as a counterpoint to the hard days of the COVID-19 lockdown. For us, overcoming the virus meant not going to baseball games, restaurants or backyard parties. We needed to wear masks around other people and be extremely careful at all times. It’s not a whole lot of fun fighting COVID-19.

For our birdhouse tenants, there was none of that. They proceeded with the same protocols that wrens have been following for millennia. And they’re fast workers too. They built the nest, got close enough together so that eggs were laid and the young wrens were born.

After that, it was largely a matter of feeding hungry baby birds. I am pretty sure that both parents took part in the feeding process. In the last couple of weeks, it has gone on constantly. One of them would fly to the birdhouse with some animal protein in their beak. He or she would sit on a twig for a moment then pop into the door.  A moment later, the wren would head back out again to look for more food. It looked like both birds were in motion at all times.

Our two grandchildren stopped by last Thursday and they got to see the wrens feeding their young. I’m glad they got to watch the birds in action.

Keep in mind that all this happened in about five weeks. I checked and it takes between 12 and 18 days from the time that the eggs hatch until the young birds are capable of leaving the nest. Those newbie wrens were peeping in our birdhouse just a few days ago but are now capable of independent flight and may be on their way to northern Canada. 

I’ve included a photo of the birdhouse after the young wrens took off this weekend. You can see the indentation on one side where the nest was located.

One more thing. After the young ones left, another wren — probably a male — started examining the birdhouse right away. He fluttered outside the door but would not go inside, probably because it was someone else’s nest.

We cleaned the birdhouse today so it’s ready for immediate occupancy if another wren is interested, and starts singing for a mate while there is still time this summer.

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