Carolina Wrens are monogamous. The male often brings food to the female while she incubates their eggs. Both feed the young after the eggs hatch. One hardcopy field guild we have said males will sometimes finish raising a brood while the female begins incubating another clutch of eggs on another nest.
Birdhouses 101 says, "Carolina wrens prefer natural nesting sites located in woodlands, thickets, brushy hollows, and swamps and along the banks of streams where there is plentiful cover." The site continues, "Due to the growing density of human population Carolina wrens do not always have the option to build nests in wild spots like that. However, Carolina wrens do not have a really difficult time adapting to their environment and are fairly tolerant of human activities. In fact they often use man-made objects..." Both of the statements are true, but I tend to disagree with the word "prefer" in the first sentence. We live in a very rural area with abundant natural nesting locations for the wrens. While I'm sure many wrens do choose natural nesting sites, others seem determined to use man-made locations.
The jar-style bird feeders Jo makes are one of the Carolina Wren's favorite nesting sites. We only feed the birds during the winter. There is often a time lag between the time we stop feeding and when we get around to taking down and cleaning the feeders. Wrens often take advantages of the empty feeders.
We'd watch a wren building a nest in this feeder and thought the nest was nearing completion. As it turned out, we'd been watching a male preparing a nest for his mate's inspection. She accepted this bird feeder nest, but then immediately began remodeling it to her satisfaction.
Once the female wren got the materials of her choice arranged the way she wanted them, she laid her eggs and incubated them.
The eggs hatched and the young wrens were fed by their parents until they successfully fledged.
The bird feeders obviously mimic the woodpecker cavities wrens might choose for nesting in the wild, but wrens also nest on the ground in dense undergrowth. As far as wrens are concerned, a fern growing in a hanging basket is a suitable substitute for "dense undergrowth".
In this case, we'd missed seeing the wrens' nest building and remodeling activities. Jo became aware of the nest because of the female's indignant response when watered. Subsequently, Jo carefully watered around the wrens and these young birds also fledged successfully.
While it's easy to understand that a bird feeder mimics a tree cavity and a fern in a hanging basket seems like dense undergrowth, it takes a bit more imagination to visualize pots sitting atop a stereo speaker resembling a tree crotch or tangle of roots.
The speaker, pots and nesting wren are over in Jo's pottery studio. "Studio" is a glamorous sounding word for an Arky cabin that was in pretty bad shape when we bought this place. Its condition hasn't improved in the past thirty years. The wrens can easily get into and out of Jo's studio even when the door is closed.
In past years, wrens chose to nest inside the pots. This pair decided to build a nest among the pots. Wrens are very tolerant of a human presence. They fuss a little and make you feel guilty for bothering them, but don't abandon their nest or neglect feeding their young. Jo enjoys watching wrens come and go while throwing pots.
This previous post provides more species details about Carolina Wrens and photos of a wren feeding at our suet feeder this winter.
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