Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wren Wars

Outside our bedroom window is a hanging resin hat. It's supposed to be decorative. However, we usually have pairs of wrens, either Carolina or Bewick's, take up residence in it a couple of times a year. We enjoy watching the nest building process, followed by incubation, and chick rearing. The hat is ultimately vacated by successful fledging. Then we clean it out and, if it's early enough in the season, it starts all over again.

This year we were delighted to see a pair of Carolina Wrens furiously bringing nesting material to the hat. I became confused when I heard a Bewick's Wren calling outside the nest when it seems as though it was complete. Sure enough, a pair of Bewick's Wrens were checking out the nest box, with the nest inside.

This morning, I had a male Bewick's Wren singing his heart out on the hat. I had to wonder if a Wren would usurp a nest it had not built.

About 15 minutes later, a Carolina Wren was at the hat, either returning to its proprietary nest, or checking out the hat for a prospective site. I heard another Wren (the Bewick's) giving its alarm call. Then, it flew over and began flying into the Carolina Wren, physically and audibly assaulting it several times in sequence.

Both Wrens flew off. It seemed things were at a standoff and I wonder if the hat will be occupied at all this season.

Meanwhile, I hear the Carolina Wren singing outside the window, a bit tentatively (not quite as loud as usual).

We'll be leaving for two weeks in Alaska and Seattle on Friday (two days from now), so I might not know how this drama plays out until my return. At that point, either the hat will have tenants or it will be an "empty nest", in which case we'll clean it out and start over, either this year or next.