Why do I find wrens so wonderful. They aren't colorful but they are good singers. Unlike many birds, they are approachable to varying degrees. Often, our pair will ignore me when I am weeding beneath the nest box, although this newest pair are more prone to fuss at me if I am within 10 feet. Maybe next year they will be more tolerant.
House Wrens are efficient bug catchers and when the chicks get large, they may bring in a catch every 2 to 5 minutes. This was a unusually large insect.
They frequently sing as part of bringing in food. I think this conditions the chicks to leave the nest when it is time to fledge. They announce the food but don't take it into the box. It seems to be "if you are hungry, come out here now".
When the chicks are small, the parents enter the box to feed and we speculate on the number of chicks. But about a week before fledging, the chicks begin to show at the nest hole.
It surely gets crowded in the box for the last few days. Watching closely, I could see above the three obvious chicks the tip of chick number four. Could there be five? Not unusual for experienced parents.
I watched the box until dark on this day hoping to see the chicks emerge and finally learn how many chicks. The next morning, about an hour after sunrise, I found the box quiet and could hear the adults singing in the redbud tree. I missed the event and won't know if there was a chick number five.
That afternoon, I pulled the box down and opened it to clear out the bundle of sticks. After a good cleaning, I will dust the box with powdered sulfur - pest repellent- and hang it up for a second nesting.
One final thought occurred to me. The nest on the kitchen porch many decades ago was in my mother's clothes pin bag. It hung from the clothes line strung between porch posts. It seems to me that the wooden clothes pins looked like an ideal pile of twigs to the wrens. What did Elizabeth do with the clothes pin bag? It would have been full of extra twigs, fecal dust, down and feathers. I am thinking she made a new bag and probably boiled the clothes pins to sanitize them. It was a reasonable price for the lesson it taught me.
When I came in to write this, I could still hear the wrens' song as the adults guided the chicks through their first days outside the nest.