Wrens in the Ferns

By Patti Muzny

A record-breaking day warm and wonderful day at the end of January allowed me to indulge in some of my favorite undertakings.  I came home from work and the temperatures were still in the 70’s at 5:00 PM.  I was tired, so I dusted off the patio furniture, grabbed a novel I had been trying to read and sprawled on the loveseat. 

I love to read, and I guess I did read a few chapters, but unless I am upright, a case of “tired” creeps up and I almost always doze off.  At 6:05 PM, my cell phone in my pocket chirped to alert me to an incoming text. At almost the same instant, an extremely perturbed Carolina Wren hopped up onto a bench about 5 feet from me and I received a thorough scolding!  By this time, it was pretty much dark on the east side of our patio. I had enjoyed a delicious 30-minute nap and missed a beautiful sunset.

Throughout the summer one and sometimes two Carolina Wrens used my hanging Boston ferns under our patio as a roosting site. Couldn’t manage to entice them into nesting there, but every evening they would sail up under the patio and dive into those plants.  Thinking they might need a winter roosting shelter, I left the frost-bitten, straggly-looking specimens hanging there. Most evenings prior to those recent 70-degree plus days, had been much too cold to sit outside.  I can nearly always be found curled up in the house near the fireplace. Therefore I had no idea the ferns were still being utilized by the wren.

When the phone and the scolding wren woke me up, I slowly extracted the phone from my pocket and the wren gave me one last squawk and flew away.  I then realized that he had probably been roosting in the fern. I thought it would be interesting to play the Carolina Wren scold from the app on my phone to see what would happen.

I played the call and immediately that spunky wren popped back up under the patio and told me in no uncertain terms what he thought of that irksome commotion!  I quickly stopped the call and within seconds, I saw the wren dive back into the shabby fern. 

I sort of apologized to the piqued wren, got up and went back into the house with a goofy grin on my face, and left Mr./Ms. Wren to resume his/her evening snooze. 

Brian informed me that after a year’s absence in our neighborhood, he saw a male Eastern Bluebird in the backyard. If we can hold the English Sparrows at bay, and the male can convince a female to join him, we can hope for a successful nesting again. We’ve also heard and seen a pair of Great Horned Owls in the large oaks in our front yard.  We’ve searched all over the neighborhood, but have yet to find where they might be nesting. We do know they court in the tree and leave whitewash on the sidewalk.  Can’t be that far away?

Addendum re the bluebirds. Yes, it’s plural!  At the end of February I just happened to be looking out toward the front yard and saw a pair of Eastern Bluebirds searching for morsels in the neighbor’s yard! Now if we can keep the House Sparrows out of the front yard birdhouse, maybe our bluebirds can nest again.

And at least one feisty Carolina Wren is still diving into the dead Boston fern that’s still hanging on the back patio.