Even though I try not to play favorites with the birds that visit our woods, some are, admittedly, closer to my heart than others. Sure, I do truly love them all, but there are a select few with whom I feel a special connection. There are those who bring their young in to beg and dine at our feeders in the summer and fall. What a wonderful treat to watch these family interactions, to get such a close look at their family dynamics. Each day I laugh and laugh at the little ones who are perfectly capable of getting the food themselves, and even go so far as to sit on the edge of the feeder while giving their begging calls, but refuse to eat until the food is put in their bill for them.
There is another family interaction to observe, though: nesting. It is the birds who nest close by, especially - those are the birds that I hold most dear. Trusting little souls who voluntarily build their nests near or on your own human dwelling. From a human's perspective there is an intimacy in that action that is beyond words. It makes you feel special - chosen, almost. It creates a bond between you and the bird. You feel naturally protective of the nest, the parents, the eggs, the fledgling young. You feel loss and remorse if the results are less than successful: an egg doesn't hatch, a nest predator has its way with things, or a newly fledged youngster is captured by a larger, swifter mammal on the lookout for an easy meal. You feel happiness when you see the young growing stronger and larger every day, and elation when the day has come that they are finally coaxed from the nest and they FLY!
Two birds fulfill this role in my life: the Eastern Phoebe and the Carolina Wren. They dwell with us during mating season and bestow upon us the privilege of observing the stuff of life that for them is merely survival, but for me is poetry in motion. Seeing their lives unfold before my very eyes brings me such great joy. With this joy comes great attachment to and great love for them. It is no surprise, then, that I was very sad to see a Carolina Wren on only one day last winter. One day. In previous winters the Carolina Wren had at least made sporadic appearances throughout the season, and sometimes I would even see two at once. But last winter... nothing.
This winter has been the very opposite. I see my sweet Wren almost every day. At the very least I see it every weekend, and sometimes I see two of them. On some days when I'm standing out on the deck, I can hear as many as 4 of them chattering about all across the woods, TEAKETTLE-TEAKETTLE-TEAKETTLE-TEAKETTLE-chrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrRRRRPT! Knowing they are here brings something special to my day. Here are some photos I was able to capture this past weekend. Wren likes to eat suet and safflower seeds. I've noticed it ground-feeding quite a bit this season as well, as comfortable on the ground among the Song Sparrows and Juncos as it is on the feeders with the Titmice, Chickadees and Nuthatches.
I'm sorry this image isn't in better focus. I'm also sorry for all the Dove poop on the deck railing.
Insert image here of wiping corners of beak with dainty napkin, followed by a dainty burp.
While I have no current photos of the Eastern Phoebe to share in this love-fest of a post (they won't be back until March), I can tell you that we are thinking of naming our property Phoebe Hollow in their honor.