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Not a Wren Falls...

Monday, June 30, 2008

Carolina wrens do not mess around when they fledge. The parents call them and lead them as fast as they can to the nearest deep cover, and they keep going deeper. I’ve watched the fledging process for years, and I’m amazed afresh each time by the parents’ intuitive grasp of their chicks’ individuality. For strong fliers, an adult will fly to the nearest tree, and encourage the chick to make the flight across the lawn in one leg. For later-fledging, weaker chicks, the adult will fly a few yards, land on the ground, and encourage the chick to make the trip in short fluttering hops, leading them from shrub to lawn chair to flower bed in a zigzag path. The whole process of vacating the nest area is usually complete within minutes.
So I was alarmed to find this lone baby still moping on the downspout, long after I’d last heard the family moving into the woods the equivalent of a half-block away. He fluttered down to the base of the downspout, not up to flying like his siblings. You can see the cardboard tube that is my snake baffle in this shot. It closes the gap between downspout and house and keeps the snake from wrapping around the downspout to get up to the bucket.So tiny, and so very vulnerable. I had to help somehow.

I listened for the other birds. Nothing. Though it had been alone for two hours, the fifth baby continued to squeak, making the contact call that all new fledglings use to say, “I’m here! I’m here! Care for me!” It was extremely vulnerable as it fluttered on the ground and clambered up the side of the house. One sharp-eyed jay, one clued-in rat snake, one lightning-fast chipmunk, and it would be doomed.I grabbed my iPod and dialed up Carolina wren songs and calls. Played it on the west side of the garage, into the woods where I’d last seen the family. No response. Ran to the east side, and played a Carolina wren alarm call at full volume. An adult appeared, zooming up from deep in the woods. I paused the recording and watched. It flew right to the hostas where it had last seen the baby, and they made contact.

I smiled and sighed with happy relief as the adult perched on the crusty ol’ Pig of Good Fortune and lured the baby out of the flowerbed with insistent calls. S(he) led it to the shelter of the Japanese maple, then the forsythia bush. Baby #5: last seen headed deep into the woods, in the company of an adult.

As you read this, we will be slogging back home after a day on a tiny jet coming out of Salt Lake City. In addition to the mountain of luggage it took to get us through a week of field trips, talks and banquets, we'll have two large suitcases that JetBlue lost on our Maine trip, then sent to Utah...Extra luggage charges, anyone?

Sometime Tuesday, after I run into town to fill the car with fresh groceries, I will meet David and Mary Jane who will hand over our doggeh. Then, we will be smothered in Chet Baker kisses. I'm ready for a good gnaw on the muzzlepuffs, and a handful of sugar snap peas from the garden.


Very smart and resourceful. And you are an excellent story-teller. Thanks!

I am amazed what with all your traveling, children shuttling, painting and writing that you ever have time to see such wonderous events let alone be a part of one.
I always appreciate your stories.

A yummy story to read after watching 30 minutes of the evening news whick is all distressing stories mixed with shallow nonsense.

Whew--now I can let out my breath. OK--so I cheated a bit.
What a great ending to the rescue the baby wren story. Who knew I-Pods could be so handy?!

What a lovely story! It's a good reminder about the importance of attention and compassion.

What a smart idea! I'm glad your iPod came in so handy and that baby #5 got picked up and cared for by his folks. Much better than trying to hand-raise him or letting him be snake food.


I'll bet you ARE ready. With so much waiting for you at home, being on the road must be bittersweet.

We have a nest of wrens under a chainsaw on the table in the barn. So far, just eggs, but I'm looking forward to watching them grow.
That's a nice story for your iPod--maybe they could use it in a sales technology benefits nature.

Enjoy the doggeh.

As is so often the case, your story made me get all teary-eyed. There is NOTHING like a good iPod story! :) Seriously, I did get weepy and I am very glad the little wrenlet is okay!

I love a happy ending, or should we say a happy beginning to the little wren's life.

Whew Julie... was wondering if the next installment was your raising a baby wren. So glad an adult came back for him. :c) Welcome home!

Wow, what a great lesson--to call the adult back instead of tampering with the baby. Thanks!

Another good reason for me to invest in and iPod with BirdJam. You are so smart Julie! Thanks for sharing this bird-saving story with us (I'm glad it had a happy ending)

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