Background Switcher (Hidden)

Wren Daily LIfe

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sick Computer Update: The nice Fed-ex man came and picked up my computer with its Black Curtain of Doom and its melted cord to ship them off to Apple, and let them become Apple's problem. The Apple Care Protection Plan should be mandatory. Three years of free service. Well, not exactly free, because the plan is expensive, but not as expensive as a new logic board and video card. Get the Plan. If you put your laptop through what I do, you're going to need it. The nice man gave Bacon four bikkits. Dog etiquette has not progressed as far as child etiquette. He didn't ask if it was OK to load Baker up with carbs; he just did it. Four big Milk Bones is pretty much a day's ration for a 24-lb. doggeh. I was so happy to see that laptop drive away I didn't chide him.

Input: daddy longlegs. Output: copious fecal sacs. I love the awkward leg position Mr. Wren assumes in order to dive in and get a fecal sac as it's being produced.

Away with it!

Songbirds remove the neat, membrane enclosed fecal sacs and fly a good distance from the nest before dropping them. Grackles like to drop them over water, and since grackles generally nest near water, that usually means a pond or stream. When there's no pond or stream, grackles will cheerfully fill up your bird bath with them. Instinct is a funny thing.

My bluebirds like to put their babies' fecal sacs on our phone wire, or on our heron weathervane, or to line them up neatly on the railing at the top of our tower. Oh, thank you.

As the wren nestlings got bigger, so did the food items the parents brought. There are very few insects that can evoke a physical shudder from me, but they are: daddy longlegs, cockroaches, and camel crickets. I think that's because all three of those tend to be in basements, and when I was a kid I have memories of cold, clammy camel crickets leaping everywhere and occasionally bouncing off my bare legs as I walked through our basement in Virginia. Ecch.

I don't know where they were getting them, but the wrens brought in camel crickets by the dozen.

There were a couple of reliable perches each wren would fetch up on while pausing to see that the coast was clear near the nest. Usually, it was the bail of a hanging basket.

Which offered nice color opportunities. This is a little variegated ivy geranium that might be called Sugar Baby Red. Teeny tiny leaves edged in cream, dark salmon flowers, and I've had it for years and years, ever since I pinched a cutting off a huge hanging basket at a garden center because I didn't want to spend $30 for one somebody else had had the fun of growing. Plant propagation and cutting theft: It's one of my only vices.


Nice pictures. I loved the awkward leg position wren shot!

Oh, dear. Don't let the NPR reader see this, he'll have you locked up for pinching plants.

Julie is ooged-out by daddy longlegs? Cool - I got a couple of photos of them from North Carolina. Just waiting for the right time to spring them on her. Maybe when she is in the basement?

[wicked chuckle]

Oh oh oh, Julie--you have just explained a mystery to me.
This spring we have had more grackles around than usual--not my favorites, but I try to admire their glossy blue-black feathers. They roost in our pine trees. Then, when they take off, they fly RIGHT over our swimming pool, with its blue thermal cover--and bombs away. It absolutely mystified me--and now Science Chimp has explained all.
Thank you.

I would never have imagined writing this comment on a blog but: I really enjoyed the fecal sac lesson. I haven't noticed any presents in our birdbath, but I haven't really been looking. I will now!

sympathies re the macbook. Mine crashed last week in Hilo. Apparently it didn't enjoy it's year of sailing. I didn't have apple care, but a fabulous computer guy retrieved all my photos (1800 of them, as if tossed in the air and landed randomly in files). I can't imagine ever sorting them, but I guess it's better than losing them altogether?
your pictures make me anxious to return home to my own small piece of land...

I can handle almost anything but cockroaches. Ugh. I remember there being gazillions of them around the dorm area in college, and they'd come out at night. I remember being a head resident for band camps one summer and we had an ice cream party in the quad. There were bowls full of ice cream abandoned while the girls danced, and they became full of them. Oh, lordy. Shivers.

Donna, Amy, you made my day. Getting an appreciative comment on fecal sacs is a high compliment to a Science Chimp. I cannot imagine having a swimming pool around nesting grackles, blecch!

Alison, my extreme sympathies. Bawww! Be glad you don't have 25,000 photos tossed in the air. Sort them while you still remember! Ack!
And when my laptop comes back I'm burning a CD of Honduras shots for you, sweets.
At least those will be organized.

Jayne, thanks for the morning shudder. I did. I shuddered right here in my computer chair.

We have these big huge flying wood roaches that come in the door in the spring. I cannot see one without screaming, the way they scuttle behind things.

Taxonomically, crickets are very close to roaches. Hence my camel cricket aversion.

Katdoc, I can pick up a daddy longlegs to move it outside, but with some difficulty. Even the Chimp has her limits.

One of my favorite childhood activities was watching daddy longlegs mate. There wasn't always a lot to do in my hometown.

Julie, Julie, Julie (that's almost like Rock Hudson)! I can't believe you are so squeamish about little ol' Daddy Longlegs. Tsk, tsk. They got no mouth parts to hurt you! In central Mexico. where we have a casita for vacationing, I love watching the jet black ones that abound in the vegetation around our house. They're larger and look more hard shelled than the ones here in El Norte. I also love watching the Vermillion Flycatchers and the wrens that usually appear in the late afternoon to pick bugs off our wall and the neighbor's adobe shed.

Stefanie, KY

Thank you for the informative post! I was tagging pictures for Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Nest Cam project and I was so baffled by the tag "seen removing fecal sacs"- now I understand :)

Keep that positive fecal sac feedback comin', girls.

I feel compelled to say that I am not incapacitated by my oogy reaction to the listed arachnids and insects. I can still pick them up and move them, or, in the case of a cockroach, squish them if I need to. I ... just...don' Still an avid naturalist, still tough as rubber nails, just get a little shudder, that's all.

I don't mind daddly long legs, in fact, they are one of the few spiders I like, but I hate camel crickets if they are the brown noisy ones that live here in AZ. My husband despises them as we had quite an influx when we first moved here. We had never seen them before. Well, that was all I ever wanted to know about fecal sacs but was afraid to ask! Who knew!

The Flying Fecal Sacs -- could be a band name.

I'm so glad to hear you are a plant thief. I was once told by an old gardener that plants that are stolen grow much better than plants you buy or are given.

I was at the Natural Gardener, a wonderful nursery that features native plants pinched of a cactus ear and hauled it home in my pocket I felt kind of bad until last week when the owner was on the Central Texas Gardening show demonstrating how to propagate plants from cuttings. He said when he first started out, he didn't have many plants and had to get cuttings from anywhere he could make off with them. Guess he would have understood if he had caught me.

But as a member of the Texas Native Plant society, I also get to steal plants legally as we rescue plants in the way of trails, roads and buildings.

No matter what bad c#@p goes on in the world, the birds just busy themselves with living in their own way. I find comfort in that.

Nice documentation of a little slice of it.

[Back to Top]