Written by Jack Sanders
Thursday, 03 July 2008 11:20
The case of the wren's egg is solved; the mystery of the nectar feeder is offered.
by Jack Sanders
Last week’s column reported on Sue Henderson’s experience with a wren that had landed on a table on their deck and suddenly laid an egg. One explanation I suggested was momma bird’s nest had been destroyed. Close, but no cigar.
“I believe I solved the quandary of the wren who laid an egg on our deck table,” writes Sue from Redding. “Just discovered a nest built inside our garage, half sunk in the woodwork above the door. Got out a step stool and flashlight to peer in and a little wren face was looking back. She must have been busy building the nest during the day, while the garage doors were open. The morning she was ready to lay her eggs, the poor thing was undoubtedly closed out from reaching it. Maybe she was on the deck trying to tell us to hurry up and open the doors when she had her little ‘accident.’
“I guess we opened them in enough time for her to lay the rest of her brood safely. So now we leave the doors open at least part way each day so she can come and go and don’t close them until nightfall when we know she’ll be bedded down. Plus there is a container of sunflower seeds on the garbage can lid for early morning.”
Also last week, Reddingite Jere Ross told of disappearing hummingbirds.
“Here in Ridgefield I had the same experience with hummingbirds,” writes Jane Neighbors.
“This was the first year I put out hummingbird feeders (after a column of yours last fall about which ones are best). We got a few steady customers for a while, then in late May they disappeared. Like Ross, I guessed it was because we had an abundance of various red and bright pink rhododendrons and azaleas at the time. Sure enough, when those faded, the hummingbirds reappeared in even greater numbers.”
Ellen Elias of South Salem says this disappearing act is “actually common behavior that I have observed over the course of the last 10 years. The hummers will come at the beginning of the season, and all of a sudden, approximately four-five weeks later, all but disappear except for sporadic visits. This has left my husband hearing my mournful exclamation of ‘Where are my hummers?’
“After much research, I have discovered that this is in fact nesting season, and the females are busy with the eggs, and babies... While this does not preclude feeding at nectar sites, it certainly limits it quite a lot.
“As soon as the babies are up and flying, nectar becomes a priority and with the influx of babies, and now available adult birds, the feeder once again becomes a very busy and wonderful place.
“So, don’t worry for next year,” she adds. “They do come back more plentiful than ever.
Incidentally, Ellen would be interested in any recipes for home made suet bird food.
Here’s a new mystery: Lois Kuperschmid of Wilton has a hummingbird feeder that, in the evening may be two-thirds full and by morning, may be empty. It’s happened a couple of times. The feeder does not leak.
The only think I can think of is nocturnal visits by a sweet-toothed, flying squirrel. Any other ideas?
“My huge mulberry tree drops messy berries to be cleared off the driveway, but provides a bird and squirrel feast this time of year,” writes Barbara Wong of Darien. “A male Scarlet Tanager came to feed at the same time as male and female Baltimore Orioles yesterday. I’ve only seen a tanager in the tree once in the last dozen or so years. It was a huge treat to see one a few feet away from orioles, whom I see a few times a year.”
“While parking in the South Norwalk garage for a train, I kept hearing sparrows chirping,” says John McGinley of Wilton. “Now, I know birds like to nest in parking garages, so I did not think much of it. But suddenly they stopped, totally. About two minutes later they began again, for about 30 seconds. This kept repeating. Finally it dawned on me: it was a recording of a bird’s alarm cries. It must keep the birds away, so they won’t roost/nest and foul the garage with their noise/droppings. Yesterday I heard the same sounds in a large garage in New Haven. Good trick.”
Bird Watching Cruises on Long Island Sound and Norwalk Harbor, with Larry Flynn, wildlife conservationist, Saturdays from 7:30 to 10:30, aboard 40-passenger ferry, $20, Norwalk Seaport Association, from Seaport dock, Water Street, 203-838-9444, www.seaport.org.
Bird walks with Luke Tiller, mostly Saturdays at 8 a.m., $10 each; to register, www. sunrisebirding. com/ walks.htm; 203-981-9924, luke.tiller @ gmail.com.
First Sundays, birding at Greenwich Point with Meredith Sampson of Wild Wings, and other guides, meet at the second concession stand, 203-637-9822.
Bird walks, first Saturday at 7:45 a.m., free, meet at Wild Bird Center of Norwalk, 335 Westport Avenue (Route 1), www. wildbird. com/ Norwalk, 203-846-BIRD.
Copyright (c) 2008 by Jack Sanders. Send sightings or comments to: jackfsanders [at sign] yahoo.com, or to Bird Notes, Box 1019, Ridgefield, CT 06877; or call 203-438-1183, extension BIRD (2473), and leave a message with your report, spelling your first and last names and telling us your town. If you need help identifying a bird, try your local nature center. If you find an injured bird, call wildlife rehabilitator Darlene Wimbrow of Redding, 203-438-0618, Wildlife in Crisis of Weston, 203-544-9913, or Wild Wings of Greenwich, 203-637-9822. The columnist’s website is www. sandersbooks. com.