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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Friday, July 29, 2011


With all of the harm that we humans have (generally unintentionally) done to other varieties of living things, it's nice to run across a species that uses us for its own purposes. It's even nicer when that species is cute, helpful, and generally cheers us up. The species under consideration today is the Carolina wren.

For the last few days, a wren has been hanging around the shed that opens off our carport. The house's previous owners never bothered to put a door on the shed, and while we have intended to, other projects (fixing the grading so that rainwater doesn't run into the basement, repairing a foundation crack, . . .) have come first, and the shed has remained doorless. Given that not much ever happens in our neighborhood, we haven't worried about theft of our yard tools. We didn't think about the shed becoming a nursery.

But a large wren has been perching on the broken Adirondack chair (surely we'll get that arm replaced before the summer ends, won't we?) and generally fluttering around that end of the carport, often with something in its beak. I've been scanning the white pine next to the carport for signs of a nest, but never found one. This morning, however, going into the shed for a spade, I heard brief panicked cheeping, looked up, and there, on the ledge where the roof meets the top of the wall, was a small nest made of grass and twigs. No babies were visible, but I wasn't about to get out the ladder to check. As I've glanced over throughout the morning, the wren (no clue if it's male or female) has been making repeated trips into the shed, bearing insects.

It turns out that Carolina wrens have found all kinds of nesting spots in human-created habitats. They cheerfully (of course, I'm anthropomorphizing here, but wrens look cheerful) utilize hanging baskets, ledges, mailboxes, gardening boots left outside, and evidently,anything that provides a little shelter and will hold one of their small, cup-shaped nests. Some birds documented on the Sialis (not to be confused with the drug) website used an open window to nest in a bathroom, to the consternation of the human inhabitants of the dwelling: http://www.sialis.org/nestscarolinawren.htm

These noisy little birds consume quite a few harmful insects, sing prettily, and give us something to smile about. I for one am glad that they have found us useful.

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