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Piedmont birding

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Small openings are invitation to Carolina wrens

By Taylor Piephoff
Taylor Piephoff
Taylor Piephoff writes on birding in the Piedmont.

Unlike me, Carolina wrens do not forget. They spend the year probing cracks and crevices around the perimeter of homes, outbuildings, woodpiles and even parked vehicles. When they find a potential site, they take note for April and May nest building.

A cracked door is an open invitation to a wren. Many times I have found them on my screened porch, in my storage room or in my garage. So when I found a wren in my closed garage back in December, I immediately searched for its means of access.

A tiny portion of the rubber sweeper attached to the underside of the door was missing, leaving an opening of 2 by 3 inches – plenty big enough for a Carolina wren.

Once this wren knew how to access the garage, there was huge potential for it to build a nest come spring. I vowed to plug the opening but soon forgot. The wren did not.

Upon return from a Memorial Day weekend vacation, my wife declared there was a wren’s nest containing two speckled eggs wedged in between our mop and ironing board.

I wonder what that wren thought when it first went through that small exterior opening. Was it expecting to find a wren-sized cavity on the other side? Instead it found a huge cavern, completely furnished with a vehicle, artificial Christmas tree and various boxes and shelves. It’s a Carolina wren paradise.

I am sure many of you have similar stories of Carolina wrens building in your garage or outbuilding. Wrens are notorious for choosing nest sites close to humans. They are also fun to have around, with their constant year-round singing and hyperactive personalities. They will sing on even the coldest of winter days. And they affect our behavior by forcing us to postpone household maintenance projects such as replacing window panes, faulty door hinges or garage door sweepers.

So some housework will cease for a few weeks. I am not complaining, and I’m not hearing any from the wife. And I’m wondering whether I really did “forget” to fix that door?

Taylor Piephoff is a local naturalist with an interest in the birds and wildlife of the southern Piedmont: PiephoffT@aol.com.
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