Possumhaw: Bye-bye, my wrens

August 20, 2012 10:04:02 AM

Shannon Bardwell - [email protected]


Wrens have been flying in and out of the airplane plant, the airplane plant Nick Hairston gave me. It's a "pass-along" plant, having belonged to Nick's mother. I like the easy airplane plant because it makes me feel successful. I've made eight more plants from the mother plant.  


I watered the airplane plants by dumping a milk jug of water over the top. That was before I discovered the wren's nest. I envisioned the little birds snuggy in their nest, then a tsunami washes over them. I stopped immediately when I discovered the nest but then curiosity got the best of me, so I took a peak. 


I gingerly lifted the plant from the hook and looked inside. How clever the parents had been. They had fashioned a nest with covering over top and a side entrance. Even so, I watered the plant more carefully from then on.  


Later I took another peek and there were the baby birds. They were piled on top of one another and completely transparent. They didn't wake since I had taken care not to create a shadow. I returned the plant to its hanger and did not disturb the birds again. 


Sam and I would watch the daily feeding. The wren was less apprehensive about us as the brood's need for food increased. The birds also seemed oblivious to the yawning cat curled up below. More importantly, the cat was oblivious to the birds. 


Jack, the cat, is deaf so he's never heard the chirp of a bird. Not to say that he has never enjoyed the delicacy, but at 14 years he seems less inclined to chase a bird than a skink passing over his food bowl. Still, I keep an eye on him in case he decides to see if he is still the little man he used to be. 


On Saturday morning while Jack was elsewhere, I saw a fuzzy head rise from the nest. The baby bird surveyed the world, flew to the porch railing and then dropped to the bottom rung. I had wondered how the bird would leave the nest. 


The mother bird returned; she checked the nest then snatched her head back and forth as any mother would do. The baby below was silent and curled into the railing. "Peep, someone. Make a peep." I urged. 


Finally the mother wren started to chirp and only then did the baby bird respond. I left for a moment and returned to two baby birds cuddled together around a flower pot. One was looking directly at me, I know he was. I grabbed my camera. His mouth was turned downward and I don't know how that could be, but it was.  


Dang, the batteries were dead. 


When I returned, the wrens had taken flight. Jack sauntered around the corner. He yawned and lay out on the porch. He then closed his eyes having missed the whole wren departure.

Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.