Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Angry birds, or, Don't mess with Mama!

One of the hanging plants on my front porch harbors a new family of wrens. From robins to wrens, it has been a season of wild procreation at our house. Among only the non-humans, fortunately.

The wren parents have been very diligent. All through the holiday weekend I watched them, as they took turns feeding their hungry brood. The wrens were not as trusting of me as the robins were: they developed their own little routine for getting past the chair where I was sitting. They hopped first to the woodpile, then to the porch floor, then immediately dove off the edge of the porch and hopped sneakily along the ground, below the porch's edge, till they reached the path. Then they made a daring flight across the path, and continued along the side of the house until they reached the location of the best food. They made this same return trip, and they must made this circle about 40 times while I sat there trying to read Walden.

All of a sudden, I was roused by a piercing squawk. Looking up, I was just in time to see both wrens dive towards a chipmunk they had seen beneath the wood-rack. Chipmunks are not above raiding a nest for eggs -- or for nestlings. He hopped off the edge of the porch, and the wrens were right on his tail. There were "sounds of a struggle," as the cop-dramas say. Then the wrens returned to feeding their youngsters. The chippie has not been seen or heard from -- he may be licking his wounds somewhere.

I got slightly bogged down in Walden, the afternoon was warm and humid, and I eventually put my head back and began to doze. Not for long, however.

SQUAWK! My eyes flew open, just as a large blue jay alighted on the woodpile. Blue jays are opportunistic, and don't turn up their beaks at the chance of a tasty young bird. The wrens, however, had other ideas, and flew straight at the jay (which had to be three times their size). Outgunned, the jay retreated to the red maple tree, where he proceeded to give us all a piece of his mind.

As for me, I am staying at my end of the porch. I have no doubt that Mama wren would try to peck out my eyes if I ventured near. I'm giving her a wide berth.