Rarity has reared its ugly head, right here on the margins of Sapsucker Woods. The pair of carolina wrens that showed up out of the blue last weekend made it through the ice storm and are now becoming comfortable in my sideyard. That doesn’t change the fact that there is nary a report of a carolina wren in Sapsucker Woods between the months of October and April, much less in January! Their russety browns and jaunty eyestripes are a welcome addition to the yard, but I feared that this cold weather (-17degC this weekend) might be enough to convince them to move on, perhaps to the great beyond. What’s an ardent wren-watcher to do?
Recalling, for a moment, the strong association that carolina wrens (and most forest wrens in general) have for a brushy, tangled environment, I took it upon myself to furnish them with a more suitable habitat than my side-yard possessed. Enter the brushpile:
Despite its diminutive dimensions, this small brushpile (4ft x 4ft) has already become the wrens’ new daytime roost. Their furtive travels through the twists and tangles are endless entertainment–they disappear at one end and magically re-appear at the other, deftly maneuvering through the small spaces. Today while out in the yard I reaped the rewards for all of my labors: a couple of musical “tea-kettles” that burst forth from behind the brushpile, a heady commendation if ever there were one.
In the end it has more than met my expectations. The wrens were exploring within 15 minutes of it being built, and the size of my junco flocks has swelled from 3-5 birds to 10-15. Other birds have also given it attention: the chickadees and titmice are active at its edges, the cardinals lodge themselves atop the mass, and from time to time a downy woodpecker lands on the lonely upright branch that extends out of the pile. All in all, a successful wrenovation, and one that I hope helps keep my new tea-kettling neighbors happy and homely.