The phoebes planned to hatch a brood on my front porch light.

They built a delicate yet sturdy mini-masterpiece. But crows prowl and bluejays egg-and-baby-snatch at will.  Ravens and grackles sport dark feathers and do dark deeds. Even the cheery house wren can turn into an egg-destroyer.





When she was six years old, Genevieve Jones rode with her father on buggy rides into the wilderness, searching for birds’ nests and collecting eggs. Gennie found an intricate bird’s nest that no one could identify. She couldn’t even find a book that would solve the mystery since no one had yet written one. When Gennie got older, she began to illustrate the eggs and nests of Ohio birds.

The bittersweet story within a story is here ~

 America’s Other Audubon.  

A woman’s love for birds, a family’s love for her.


Toni 8/14/13

Empty Nest? It’s Complicated. Another 420 Character, 9-Liner that Connects Humans and Birds.

It gets complicated for us Mamas when the kids fledge.

I watch the House Wren parents trying to lure their teens out of the house.

“Time to go Litter # 1!

Your Mama’s laid 6 eggs,

kept a 12-minutes-on-8-minutes-off-brooding-schedule;

and she and I made 300 feeding trips a day once you all hatched.

Time’s passing;

gotta make room in the house for your little sibs.

Honey?” (Mr. HW looks around) “Hey honey where ya goin’?”

Patty 6/4/12

 House Wrens fledging…

Smother Mother? A New Depiction of the HoverMother: Or Why is the Carolina Wren Sitting on Her Hatched Baby?

I’ve read that Carolina Wrens Will. Nest. Anywhere. So after an initial shock when I went to plant the window box with shade-loving plants and the Mama flew out at me, and I discovered their nest, I’ve settled into a quiet vigil of peeking every few hours at what’s happening. I’ve never been so privileged up till now to be able to actually watch the whole brooding thing.

I’m kicking myself for missing the nest building that went on right under my nose, er, in front of my eyes! I mean it took quite a bit of back and forth for the male to create this lovely dome-shaped, side-opening nest of pine needles with what looks like fur , fine grass, feathers, and plastic as a liner. I wonder if the couple makes a list of what to look for before going off to forage for the protective items. I think I detect a piece of the purple yarn I put out in the spring for just such a purpose.

The Mama sits with her arched bill resting on the opening. I can see her brownish red upper parts and the yellowish-white streak over her eye. It goes down her neck and seems edged with darker brown. There are five eggs. They’re oval, greyish-white, and sprinkled with reddish-brown.
She covers them with every bit of her body. It almost looks like she’s deflated over them to keep the eggs warm.

(This photo comes from a newly discovered blog site. Check it out: It’s amazing. It gives a good picture of what Mama looks like from our nest.)

The nest is  just under the overhang of our second story. Just. Barely under it actually. After the mighty wind, rain, thunder and lightning storm of last week the nest is looking like it’s having a bad hair day.

WOW! During the course of getting this blog piece drafted, the eggs have hatched!

Little puff balls. Five of them. It’s hard to get close enough to see body parts. The Mama is sitting on them. Yes, on them. She isn’t hovering. She isn’t inching to the side. She’s on top. Covering them completely and daring me to move an inch closer.

I’m keeping back, but this scene is resonating that’s for sure.

In the very early days with each of our four kids I know I felt just like this Mama. I wanted to protect them, cover them with my body, cradle them, hold the little blanket close to them, tuck them in, pull them to my side, the whole lot. If I was away from them it hurt. The Mama Carolina Wren isn’t a helicopter mom, she’s the real deal, a brand new, I’m here to keep Evil-From-You-No-Matter-What Mom. Just like I used to be.

Note the past tense please.

The idea of wanting to protect the tiny newborn is built into all the mamas. But then the urge diminishes. Luckily, or things don’t turn out the way they’re supposed to. It’s interesting now that everyone is bigger than I am by several inches, I sometimes get that old twinge of wanting to protect. To ask questions. To offer help. Advice.

I pretty much don’t, but I admit–even though I’m fully confident that each kid is doing great without us–I admit that it takes some mental prep to stay off the nest.



PS  These are hilarious movies:

Carolina Wren Baby Birds eating bugs, pooping & leaving

Carolina Wren feeding babiesCarolina Wren feeding babiesCarolina wren Videos Online – VideoSurf Video Search

YouTube – carolina wren feeding chicks