Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Gift for Gardening With Intent

This morning I received the perfect gift for my efforts to create a refuge for wildlife in my backyard - fledglings.

Yesterday afternoon I took a quick photo of the Bewick’s wren chicks in their “chicken pot” nest. You have to look closely to see one of the chicks. One light streak in the dark opening is the yellow on the lower edge of a beak and the other is a white eyebrow just over the tiny eye. The other two chicks are further back in the pot.

Mom was working very hard yesterday. No sooner did she return to the nest with a grub or worm and feed one of the chicks, then she would start off to look for more and one of the chicks would call her back for KP duty.

Bewick’s wrens are cavity nesters. I have a perfectly nice bird house in the yard that this pair used a few years ago. They built a nest in the house this year, but decided the pot was a better location. Anyway, because the chicks are down in a confined space, the parents take the little packets of fecal matter out of the nest to keep it clean.

Yesterday, the three chicks had mom hopping. Their chirps were insistent, “Feed me, feed me.” “Mom, there’s poop.” The father wren has been helping with the feeding and housekeeping, but yesterday, when things were at their most hectic. I caught a glimpse of him sitting high on the telephone wire, nearly asleep. The chicks were calling, but he seemed to be letting his mate handle the offspring.

This morning the nest was empty.

And here is where the gift comes in: The parent wrens were leading their three fledglings through the holly cherry and the fern. Dad was leading the little ones in a hunt for crane’s fly grubs in the leaf litter and grass. The young birds were trying their wings for the first time, flying a couple feet off the ground and perching on a seedling oak.

I have worked to create a Garden with Intent, food for myself and a hillside with native plants that feed and house native insects. These insects are in turn food for the Allen’s hummingbirds when they nest, the western fence lizards and slender salamanders, and now for the family of Bewick’s wrens. The habitat is rich in resources and safe from introduced predators. There is no cat to fear, no pesticides to weaken tiny youngsters.

The pair of wrens were leading their three chicks on a morning of discovery and I got to watch.

Oh, and Dad had a reason to be resting up yesterday, he was leading the way.

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