Wrens leave an empty nest


We are empty nesters again. I’m talking about the family of wrens that set up housekeeping in the hanging geranium on the front porch last month.

For the first few days, they flew back and forth with building materials: leaves, twigs, grass and even a long piece of string that was originally attached to a helium balloon left over from Easter.

Then the female settled into the nest among the leaves while the male scoured up delectable servings of grasshoppers, moths and crickets for her, and stood watch at various outposts around the porch. Whenever anyone walked nearby, he would let fly with raspy epithets that would make a sailor blush. When there were no threats, he would sing clear, magical arias that would challenge the best of Beverly Sills at the Met.

A couple weeks later, the female emerged, and both adults launched a high speed feeding campaign that would rival a military mess hall in a combat zone. No sooner had one left the nest, than the other would return with something yummy for the kids. After a few days, we began to hear cheeping from the nest, and the parents picked up the pace to feed the hungry youngsters.

Then, last weekend, we saw a small bundle of feathers flap clumsily from the nest to the screen door, latch on and hang upside down while Mom and Dad chirped encouragement from the sidelines. Then a second bundle skittered through the air and clung precariously atop the hummingbird feeder – while a confused hummingbird tried to eat.

My wife and I watched for nearly an hour. The next day the whole family was gone and there was a palpable silence where the singing had been.

We can only hope they’ll be back next year.