I had my first ever Carolina Wren nest in a hanging basket of tuberous begonias this summer. One person I told said, "Of course you do!" They successfully raised and fledged five chicks. They're nesting all over my property in Newfield. I hear the buzzy "I'm bringing food" sound all day long every day. They now visit a basket of fuschias but I don't think they have a nest there. I thought they would but they just hang out there. They've put a serious dent in the bug population this year. I'll definitely encourage their return.
On August 24, 2014, at 5:00PM, Donna Scott wrote: Re CAROLINA WRENS nesting in hanging baskets or the like: a few years ago C. Wrens nested in a plastic bag containing rubber belts for the lawn mower! the bag was hanging on a nail against the house under the floor of my roofed back deck (house is on a hill so there is a walk out basement on the side with the bag - it was above my head), so plenty of shelter, yet easy access to the yard and spiders and insects in garden equipment nearby. I could see the nest thru the transparent bag. 3 Young. I always have them nesting around here somewhere and this year they successfully fledged 3 young from one of those little woven, round-bottomed, pointed-top nest baskets that one hangs up somewhere - mine are under the roof of my front porch. Now one (or more?) of the wrens sleeps at night in another one of those baskets on the other side under the porch roof (I have 3 of those hung up under there). I leave my big, browned "not-so-evergreen" Xmas wreath up on my front door long after winter because I like the way it smells and it is always nicely decorated with natural plants (by me). One year a Carolina Wren built a beautiful nest in the center of the wreath against the door. It lined the whole thing with soft green moss and laid its eggs. As soon as discovered the nest, I stopped using the front door and put ladders in front of the step to the porch to keep people from approaching the door. We all had to use the door from the garage. Sometimes I stood nearby to observe the babies in the nest and take a few photos and later they successfully fledged, I think. Sometimes I put the old wreath on the side wall of my recessed front porch and now and then the wrens build a nest in the center of it over there. This year I heard that monotonous vocalization (that Lindsay described) from the parent around the time the young were about to fledge. For a while one baby stood on top of the nest basket, as the parent chattered away, then baby went back into the nest. A couple days later they were all gone from the nest. I live by Cayuga Lake (so a little warmer here in winter), and I have Carolina Wrens here all winter visiting my many bird feeders, and have had for at least a decade. I think there are as many wrens here as ever and that they survived this last "real winter" OK, perhaps due to bird feeders -- although I think I am one of the only residents on Lansing Station Road that keeps feeders full in winter (& all year round). Donna Scott Lansing ----- Original Message ----- From: Lindsay Goodloe<mailto:l...@cornell.edu> To: CAYUGABIRDS-L<mailto:cayugabird...@list.cornell.edu> Sent: Sunday, August 24, 2014 1:32 PM Subject: [cayugabirds-l] Carolina wrens nesting in fuchsia hanging basket I was interested in Dave Nutter’s recent reports on a pair of Carolina wrens that successfully nested in a hanging planter on his back porch. It was just a few days after his first report (7/18) that we noticed Carolina wrens carrying nesting material to a hanging basket of fuchsia suspended from a beam under the ceiling of our otherwise unenclosed back porch. By the weekend of 7/26-7/27, we suspected that they were incubating their clutch. August 10 was the first day we observed food being brought to the nest, but the eggs may have hatched a day or so earlier. My wife saw an adult bringing food to the nest early in the morning on 8/21, but the nest was empty by the afternoon, and so, to our great disappointment, we totally missed what we assume was the successful fledging of the young. We never peered into the nest (a domed structure with the entrance located on the side facing the backyard) to count babies, either. The nest location was about 10 feet from our back door and five feet from a kitchen window from which we could observe the activity. Since we spend very little time sitting on the porch, the birds took little or no notice of us and flew fairly directly to the nest when delivering food. We once heard them making nervous-sounding vocalizations when a seemingly oblivious chipmunk loitered for awhile on the ground under their nest location until we drove it away. My wife also once saw the wrens drive away a downy woodpecker that landed briefly on a post near the nest. Though we rarely heard the male giving its full song during the nesting period, at least one of the birds (the male?) spent an amazing amount of time (especially in late morning and during the afternoon) repeating monotonously the brief slurred trill call that is one of the wren’s common vocalizations. It gave this call from many locations close to our house, but perhaps its favorite calling perch was the handle of our lawn mower, which was for some days parked on our porch about ten feet from the nest. We believe that the frequency of calling increased as the fledging date approached; if so, it suggests that the vocalizing was directed mostly at the nestlings. Perhaps some learning of the call goes on at this period. We’ve hardly heard this call, or any other, since the young (presumably) fledged. Over the many years that we’ve lived in our South Hill house, we’ve occasionally had house wrens and chickadees nest in the hollow top of a post at the corner of the porch, but having any bird make a nest in a hanging basket was a first for us. The poor fuchsia plant showed signs of getting very thirsty as the nesting period progressed, but it survived (albeit with no blooms at this point). We are wondering how frequently hanging baskets (or other planters) are utilized by Carolina wrens (or any other species) as nest sites. Two instances in Ithaca in the same season might suggest that it’s not a rare occurrence, but I can’t recall any other reports in previous years (which, given my memory, proves nothing). Perhaps this post will spur some recollections of others. In any case, our wrens have made this a fun and memorable summer for birds even though we’ve seldom gotten out in the field. And a couple of other thoughts. For decades, we’ve had house wrens nesting in our backyard in bird houses that we’ve provided. The last wren house fell apart a couple of years ago, and we have not replaced it. So now we have no house wrens, and for the first time (to our knowledge) we‘ve had a pair of Carolina wrens nesting around the house. Is this a coincidence, or do these wrens exhibit interspecific territoriality (I haven’t researched this point in BNA)? Also, last winter was the sort of brutally cold season that is supposed to result in high mortality on Carolina wrens, yet we had a pair around our feeders all winter—perhaps the same pair that nested here this summer. Have others noticed any decrease in the Carolina wren population this year? If not, perhaps feeders are mitigating the losses that this species formerly suffered during harsh winters. 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