Thursday, April 26, 2007

Flight School

We have a very messy bookcase filled with sporting equipment on our screened in porch. Luckily, it even had an empty shoe box on one of its shelves. About a month or so ago, some House Wrens filled this box to the brim with twigs, leaves, grass and our hair. Soon there were three little eggs in it. We have watched the mother sitting on it and the father wren bringing her worms (and Gillen's homemade suet). We watched the little birds once they had hatched, mouths gaping open for food. We eat outside, now that it's warmer, and when the parents start squawking, worms or bugs hanging from their mouths, we have been leaving the table and going inside so that the babies could be fed in peace.

Today, the chicks left the nest, and we saw it all! This afternoon, Gillen was looking in on them and the three of them suddenly popped out of the box and drifted to the floor. One of them proceeded to try to scale a screen wall and the other two made it outside. They seemed so pitiful that we thought it best to put them back in their nest. There were no parents to be seen so we thought we had pushed them to leave too early. Gillen and Jesse had a blast finding them and gently carrying them back to the box.

Then tonight we happened to see the parent Wrens in the porch, watching as their babes floundered out of the box and around the room. The parents left the room through the hole in the screen and we watched as the three slowly figured out how to follow them out. It took two of them a very long time. For a half hour they just repeatedly scaled the screen until they were completely exhausted, at which point they would fall back down, often into the citronella candle (you can see it in the candle - it looks like a little pot - in the picture below). It was hilarious. One even showed that it could fly by flying shakily back to the box. But finally, they all three made it out, where they toddled off the deck to the grass of our yard and were seen following the parents from the ground to lower tree branches. It was very cool.

The parents never nudged the birds out of the nest. They never even got very close to them. Yet, they were always in sight. They just modeled what to do, chirped encouragement and stayed out of the way. They were infinitely patient. I am so glad that I was home to get this lesson from the birds.

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