Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)

Early this month, Tom took this photo through our dining room window. We both enjoy watching Carolina Wrens. This was one of the first birds I learned about when I began volunteering at Brukner Nature Center in the 1980s. Larry, the education director at that time, identified it by song one day when we were walking in the woods.

Its song is distinctive.  Birders use the mnemonic, "teakettle, teakettle, teakettle" to describe it.   He told me they had been wiped out in this part of Ohio during the cold, snowy winter of 1977-78 and were just beginning to move back up into our area in the 1980s. Since then, Tom and I have had some interesting encounters with the little birds.

Tom took this at Stillwater Prairie Reserve. The wren had a nest on a shelf inside the park district's shed.

Since then we have had them nest several years in our garage on a shelf.

One year we were lucky enough to watch four fledglings hopping about in the garage from lawnmower handle to table saw and back to the lawnmower handle as they strengthened their wings. The parent tried to shepherd them toward the opening in the weatherstripping at the bottom of the garage door. Fledglings 1, 2, and 3 quickly found the opening but Fledgling 4 was dense.

Evidently, bird brains are not created equal. The bird would not follow the parent who patiently and repeatedly flew down toward the opening and even walked through it. The bird would reappear through the opening, twitter to Fledgling 4 and then walk through the opening again.  Tom and I must have watched for fifteen minutes.  We even discussed opening the door but we didn't want to disrupt the concentration of the persistent parent.  The persistence paid off.  Fledgling 4 finally followed its parent out the door and into the big wide world. 

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