My family’s interest in birds goes back several generations. My grandparents had a bird book to help identify who they saw and my parents had a winter feeder and put up birdhouses. Margaret and I are continuing that tradition. Although I’m mostly a passive watcher on the porch with morning coffee, she’s much more proactive. She has put up feeders with grape jelly for orioles and sweet syrup for hummingbirds, and a variety of seeds for anybody who’ll eat them. And, wren houses….lots of wren houses.
This wren house is just west of the house, easy to see from the porch. You can just barely make out the sticks of the occupant’s nest in this photo and the house is close enough to the porch that we can hear as well as watch the comings and goings. We’re not getting scolded very much these days. My mother used to describe how the wrens scolded her while she hung out clothes because their wren house was on one of the clothesline posts. It’s good to have the busyness in this star house close to the porch because the feeders have all been taken down. After the initial surge in the spring, lots of the birds don’t visit the feeders much. Plus, the strong winds make it hard to keep them filled.
This property is a little less formal and more rustic. It’s located to the east of the house near our driveway and was the first to have a tenant take up residence this spring. It’s hard to see the sticks inside, but this particular model has an innovative way to make cleaning out the nest much easier. The front is hinged and that little lever on the right side holds this “door” closed. Also, it’s a “hippie/earth hugger” house because it advertises a commitment to protecting the environment….”Going Green”.
This property is located in the ash grove north of our house. It’s also occupied as you can tell by the stuff hanging out of the door and by the sticks that are poking out the bottom. In contrast to the slant-roof on the “hippie” house, this one has a peaked roof. That peaked roof is designed to lift off for easy cleaning. That’s why the roof doesn’t fit down tight and why there’s a gap between the roof and wall.
Here’s another unpainted, rustic wren house with a peaked roof design. It’s also located east of the house near the driveway at the old wagon box and antique grindstone wheel. However, this property is currently vacant. We think that it’s because it twists in the wind so that the door ends up facing the tree trunk. That makes for limited access and may explain the vacancy. On the other hand, the gap between the wall and roof is pretty conspicuous in this model. Maybe it’s a bit too drafty for a committed occupant?
These two shots are of an a-frame design that my Dad built. The tin roof is a coffee can lid and it’s badly in need of paint. However, the deterioration has progressed well beyond the do-it-yourself stage! This is no longer a “fixer upper”. The photo on the right demonstrates just how far things have fallen apart. Needless to say, this home is no longer occupied on a regular basis. At least it’s an easy cleanout job with no floor to get in the way or even hold the nest.
We got this sculpture for our anniversary. These are the only cardinals that we’ve seen around here; I don’t think that I ever remember seeing them here on the farm. We have just recently realized, however, that we are seeing redheaded woodpeckers lately. Both of us remember seeing them as kids, but can’t recall seeing any when we first moved back twenty years ago. As you can tell by this photo, the sculpture is west of the porch (near the star house of the first photograph) and the dry brown grass shows how dry we are.
It seems like the wrens aren’t as active in the heat, even in the cool mornings. The draught has dried up most of the sloughs and wetlands, so we’re not seeing any of the big herons that we saw during the last several wet years. Another “fringe benefit” of the draught is an invasion of varmints on the dry, dormant lawn. Rabbits, gophers, and even woodchucks are hitting the brown grass pretty hard. I may have to respond with deadly force. Hopefully, that won’t bother the wrens in their private homes. And, Margaret’s responsibilities as
slumlord landlord are minimalized until fall when it’s time to cleanout the wren houses. In the meantime, she deserves credit and thanks for taking all of these pictures.