It is with mixed feelings that we can report an empty nest this morning. Yesterday was fairly rainy, and the chicks were big enough to be clustering around the mouth of the nest when we checked late yesterday afternoon. This morning, there was a large (for wrens) patch of birdpoo on the ground immediately below the nest, and the nest is empty. Since then we've not seen a single wren, so we assume they must have dispersed. Here is a picture of the empty nest.
We have watched this process from beginning to end, from the male sitting atop our wind turbine on calm days, the highest point around to call out that he was nest building, to inadvertently not understanding that he wanted to build in a hank of Helen's yarn, drying in her drying tent, and so we took down the first two. Eventually we understood, and the nest, amazingly for such a small bird, took shape. We were told that the male builds the nest and hopes the female approves of it, or he starts all over again. Fortunately, he'd selected a lady of taste and discernment, because Helen then discovered a few Smartie-sized eggs in the nest, and we began to hope. This was during a particularly busy time of Helen's year, so she was constantly into and out of the drying tent with yarn, in preparation for a big knitting event, but they seemed unaffected by her presence. We were away for a week, during which time, the eggs hatched.
Since then, we have watched the ramping up of activity, the parents constantly and throughout the long northern summer days, making trip after trip foraging for spiders and grubs. Our countryside ranger says the drystone walls around us are attractive to wrens for the nooks and crannies which contain suitable food. I timed then wrens at a visit every two minutes at one point, with many visits also resulting in removal of faecal sacs.
But it was not just a mindless hunting and feeding routine. Conventional (and ideologically loaded) wisdom is that the biggest and loudest chicks closest to the parent get the food, but we saw the parents sometimes feeding the front chick and sometimes going in to the nest to feed one a the back. I even saw one parent bring in a big fat juicy grub, give it to one at the front, then tug away, elongating the grub, then stick her head in to the nest to feed another. You can see this in the video below.
It was also interesting to see the chicks calmly sitting until a parent arrived nearby, when somehow they would know, and start the most gentle cheeping, mouths agape.
So here is a two minute video of the various clips we have taken during this period. It's been a delightful experience, being in proximity to these tiny, attractive creatures.