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Carolina wren moves into my garage

The Wren in My Garage
The Wren in My Garage Taylor Piephoff

I first saw her a month or so ago as I stepped out of my house into the attached garage. In the subsequent days I would see her regularly, snooping through boxes, bags, bookcases and storage shelves. Every time I surprised her she would scoot away and escape through a small opening in the bottom of the garage door sweeper; a flitting tiny brown form.

This has become a yearly spring encounter for me as the local pair of Carolina wrens check out the garage for a suitable nest site. Some years they stay outside and try to use the tubular paper box below the mailbox if they can beat the Eastern bluebirds and Carolina chickadees to it. Not so this year; no one is in the box as of now. Nor is anyone in the patio grill or potted plants.

So last week I began a search for the large globular nest with a side entrance hole I was sure was somewhere hidden in the garage. Christmas wreath, no. Artificial Christmas tree, no. Christmas garland, no. Inside the Christmas manger, nope. Top of the mop head, again nope. Tool pouch? Nah, too tight. Garden bucket, no. Garden shelf, yes! I mean no, just a partially deflated basketball. AmVets bag No. 1, not this year. AmVets bag No. 2, ditto. AmVets bag No. 3, BINGO!

Yes, there she was peering out at me from a moss and dead leaves-filled depression in the clothes. She blinked only once but never abandoned her diligent incubation. Later I would count five tiny cream-colored eggs with brown speckles when she was on a feeding break. It’s a safe place. My garage has provided for successful nestings for many years. It’s predator-free (my old cat quit caring years ago), and the wren doesn’t mind the noisy opening and closing of the doors at all.

If all goes well there will be five gaping mouths to feed in about a week, and a couple of weeks after that a family of Carolina wrens milling around the yard quietly talking back and forth in a murmured chatter.

Carolina wrens are notorious for usurping human space and possessions for raising their families. I gladly give way to the tiny trespassers any year they choose to come inside.

Taylor Piephoff is a naturalist with an interest in the birds and wildlife of the southern Piedmont: PiephoffT@aol.com. Check out his blog at piedmontbirding.blogspot.com.