House of Wrens

The action takes place near a suburban home in Cincinnati.

We first noticed a male House Wren visiting our Wren house on April 10.

By the 12th, he was working on a nest in the box.

On the 14th the female visited, and the next day she was in the box.

The day after that she was adding to the nest.

She laid one egg a day starting on April 29th, and a few days later the video record begins:

May 2: 4 eggs laid

May 15: Mom and her 7 eggs

She spent much less time on the eggs than we expected. But until the chicks were too big for her to stay, she was with them every night.

She clearly was aware of the camera, often keeping an eye on it:

She would often "scramble" the eggs, almost roughly turning them with her bill.

May 16: Mom trying to teach Dad to bring food

She would call for him, then eventually go out to find him:

This went on for two days.

May 18: First 4 eggs hatch

That's Mom's foot next to the baby. It spent most of its time sleeping, but when Mom brought a bug (usually a small grub), it would rear up its head, open wide, choke it down, and then fall over face first like a drunk passing out in a movie:

Less than 13 minutes from first crack in the egg to first meal

Here's the second one hatching, and taking its first meal after big brother couldn't get it down:

Some cute baby pictures:

They are born with fuzzy mohawks which persisted almost until fledging:

May 19: The other 3 hatch

Mom was off the nest frequently to get them food; Dad would help, but she would always get it from him and feed the chicks herself. She always left as soon as she heard him sing.

Mom would periodically "scramble" the chicks, as roughly as she did with the eggs. She seemed to be counting them (at least making sure they were still breathing).

May 20: Peeping starts

And the first hints of feathers are visible:

As soon as they heard Mom land on the house, their mouths would open:

When one needs to defecate, it's "bottoms up", and Mom catches it and takes it far away.

May 21: If she tries enough mouths, it'll eventually be torn up enough for one to take it


May 23

Mom would definitely try to feed them "evenly", skipping one open mouth if another hadn't eaten recently.

Wing feather shafts are showing:

May 24

That mouth looks big, but the bugs Mom brings almost always seem too big for the opening.

May 25: Eyes start to open

Starting to look like proper wings:

May 26

Back feathers are growing out:

May 27

So are the tail feathers:

May 28

Eyes are now open more often than not:

May 29

Whenever a loud noise is heard nearby, it's shut up and "hit the deck!"

May 30

Can only see two or three at a time now:

May 31

Some of them spend most of their daylight hours standing on the edge of the nest:

June 1

Bills finally look like they belong to wrens.

June 2: Time for some fresh air

June 3: Our first two graduates

After this feeding, Mom decided it was time. In order to tease them out, she brought a moth but refused to give it to any of them.

She brought it to the hole and left again a dozen or so times, sometimes just flying around the box, and sometimes flying to a nearby perch.

Number one

was practically pushed out by number two:

Number two

Who, after a short reconnaissance, flew about a foot to a nearby planter.

Waiting for a bit

The others were noticeably smaller than the first fledglings, and seems content to have Mom continue to feed them, which she resumed after a short time.

The next morning we saw Mom feeding the remaining chicks and figured we has time to read the paper. When we finished, the nest was empty.

We saw nothing of the family until the week of June 12th. Then the male began singing near the box. On the 15th he was seen taking nesting materials into the box, and both he and the female were in and out of the box.

We have removed the camera: the box was really too small for the camera to show everything that went on, and the birds were clearly crowded by it. Since the second nest is built on top of the first, we knew it was time for the camera to go. Next year we hope to have a larger box with a chimney for the camera, and a House Wren-sized opening.

One more time!

On June 24, we found that she had laid 3 eggs, which means the first was laid on June 22nd.

This clutch has a total of 5, so the next batch should hatch around July 9th (13 days after the last one was laid), and if they're on schedule, they'll all fledge on July 25th.

And they did!

©2017, Kenneth R. Koehler. All Rights Reserved.