Thursday, April 23, 2009

Easterlina Wrenbes

There are some strange doings on our back porch. Here is a video of a series of parental visits to a nest with nestlings that is tucked away back there; the odd equipment protruding from under the nest is a propane heater head:

Now that you've seen that, the rest of the tale...

No this is not some bizarre case of impossible inter-family hybridization. The nestlings are pure-blooded Carolina Wrens, of course. About eight feet away from this nest there was an Eastern Phoebe nest. The night before last, the phoebe nest fell (cause unknown) and the eggs with their half-developed embryos were all smashed. Given the loss of their own nest, it seems the begging cries and gaping mouths of the wrenlings just a few feet away were irresistible to the phoebes. So now the wrenlings have four parents taking care of them. It will be interesting to see how long this lasts!

Never let it be said that alternative lifestyle arrangements are "unnatural;" these wild, natural babies have two mommies and two daddies!

This makes me remember the famous towhee (Rufous-sided in those days) in Fernbank Forest in Atlanta in the mid 1970s when I first started birding. He sang a perfect Carolina Wren song. We had hypothesized back then that he had mistakenly imprinted on a neighboring Carolina Wren song. Now I wonder if perhaps he had been orphaned, and a pair of wrens nearby that had suffered a nest loss adopted him! As I recall, he never was seen to have successfully attracted a mate.


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