May 11, 2010

Wren Attempts Sneak Attack on Warbler Home

Magee Marsh is a birding center on Lake Erie, about 20 miles east of Toledo, Ohio.
Saturday there was high drama there as a brown wren (look hard—she’s camouflaged against the dead tree trunk) tried to invade the nest of the flashy yellow Prothonotary Warbler (sorry I couldn’t get a better shot of him—believe me, I tried). If you'd like a better look, try here:

The world of birds is a cautionary tale. For example, which is more interesting, the flashy bird or the plain bird who goes about his business? Or is it the tangle of trees always pretending to remain in the background, leaves and bark, shadow and light, and all of them contending for attention, dwarfing the critters we thought we came to see?

So it might be worth noting that the warbler had been warbling about his territory for an hour or more; the sky and all those trees were his. "Hey, baby, come look at my etchings." Or "Them's my etchings and that's my woman, so beat it, bud." I don't speak bird well enough to be sure which song he sang, but his music was talking the talk.

The highly desirable abode, the point of contention between him and the wren, was a cavity just below the several woodpecker holes in the rusty-brown part of the dead tree. (Slow down! Look carefully! This is not a race!).

Rumor had it that in bird brains this amounted to a gated community full of McMansions. No wonder it was hotly contested. It was where you lived if you were somebody.

I don’t want anyone losing sleep over images of bird combat for territory, so I’ll clarify that I didn’t witness any birds in aerial dog fights or thundering, head-butting land battles. However, other (legitimate) birders were abuzz about the imperialistic escapade and the wren's daring. Or was it deceit? Their tones were both excited and worried. I did and I didn't want to know what they knew.

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Anonymous said...

Oh, this has everything -- desire, lust, greed, passion. And I did look slowly and carefully.

Did I tell you I have a nest of house finches in the rain gutter outside my office?

Banjo52 said...

Hiker, houses finches are fine. And I think I finally can distinguish them from the more raspberry topped purple finches.

Are you feeding them or have they just chosen you as if on mission?

Anonymous said...

I feed inadvertantly. They like my raised beds of vegetables and seeds, and particulary like the loquat tree by the back door. They are a delight.

Gary Carden said...

Each year, I witness the Redbird Wars in a stand of Hemlocks below my house.
It gets pretty brutal, sometimes, and as the Redbirds soar and swoop, I see feathers floating through the trees.
Last year, I had a bald-headed Redbird at my feeder. Poor guy.
P. S. Yeah, I know that Redbird is not usually capitalized, but they seem pretty special.

Banjo52 said...

Gary, capitalize away! They ARE special. Mr. and Mrs. C look out for each other in the backyard, eating one at a time for awhile, as the other stands guard. Mr.'s affection includes stuffing seeds down Mrs.' throat. A summer or two ago, Mr. and Mrs. adopted an orphaned white-crowned sparrow chick, fed it till it disappeared, I hope into self-sufficient adulthood. Oh, I'm a BIG fan of Redbirds.

On a less happy note, check out Julie Zickefoose's blog a few days ago ('s on my "blogs I follow").

I'm as tempted as most by the grandeur of predators, but I'm gonna have trouble admiring the sharp-shinned hawk after the Zickefoose blog (she's more professional and objective than I am; ditto at Susan Goes Native--she earns her living at a predator preservation place near Cincinnati).

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Lovers' Lane