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Bewick's Wren - 2018 w/3 broods

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Old Sunday 4th March 2018, 19:23   #1
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Bewick's Wren - 2018 w/3 broods

I'm off to a good start. I gotta hope it goes better than last year. One of the pair disappeared sometime during feeding, the mate couldn't keep up and the five chicks died. 2nd clutch time drew a blank, no other wrens move in.

On to 2018......

Yesterday I put up 4 fence line boxes. This morning I found a pair of wrens building a nest in the east facing box. Full sun exposure, of all the boxes I thought for sure this one would be rejected.

The fence boxes are surrounded with twigs and branches, a combination of shade and cover from sparrows.

This box is larger than the others; it's deeper and a tad bit wider. Kinda like a wide Bluebird box, I've seen both wrens in the box at the same time.

As seen in the box photo, it's about 4 feet up the fence. I shoved it behind that patch of dead Purple Bindweed. Around it I shoved dead Flame Acanthus branches. With a good wind they'll blow down, I'll need to shore up the covering sometime this evening.

That patch of dead grass at the bottom of the fence is a row of cut back Flame Acanthus; my hummingbird flowers.

Anyway, this is my earliest nesting behavior. Traditionally, I haven't seen activity prior to mid March, 1st of April. If things go smoothly I may have two clutches..!!
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Old Saturday 7th April 2018, 20:52   #2
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Things aren't working out so well. Someone needs to talk me off the ledge, an intervention if you will.

If I don't act, I fear I'm destine to repeat the Bewick's Wren - 1st Clutch 2017 scenario. I'm thinking I'll need to intervene on the behalf of the chicks, remove them, take them to a rehab-er.

The question "what do I do" is rattling around in my head, along with "just watch and let nature play out".

This year, like last year, the male wren has disappeared.

From observation, the female has been sitting on her eggs for 14 days. Today marks that day, it's also been 14 days since I've seen her mate. On that morning the female was overly excited, fluttering round the box while the male poked his head inside. After which, the male flew off and the female entered the box to sit on her eggs.

In the past 14 days I've caught her a few times entering and leaving the box to forage for food. The times I sat and waited she would be gone no more than 15 minutes, at the most. Never returning with insects.

For the past 3 days, she left the box shortly after sunrise. After preening and a short forage, she picks a high point and sings for her mate.

On the 1st of the 3 days, her song was short and in close proximity to the box. The 2nd day she extended her area out. After a short while she returned accompanied by a strange wren. They both went to the box, the strange wren poked his head in and then flew off never to return.

Today, the 3rd day, she extended the area further out, no other wrens responded to the calls.

Wren incubation is 14-16 days. I've yet to see her return to the box with solid food.

Years past the male has always been present, bringing food during incubation and poking his head in the box every now and then.

If my math is right, it may be 2 more days before they hatch. Then another 14-16 days till they fledge. That will make it somewhere around the 21-25.

Last year, the chicks were maybe 3 or 4 days from fledging. Here's a photo of the Nest Box and of the Dead Chicks. The day prior to these photos they were still alive and singing for food.

So.....based upon last years experience, if the female is left alone to feed the chicks the likelihood of their survival is slim. Therefore, what do I do? Do I let it play out or do I intervene?

If I'm pulling the chicks for rehab, I'm guessing it would need to be done somewhere around the 17th.....if the female can keep up feeding her brood that long.

What should I do?

Last edited by SanAngelo : Saturday 7th April 2018 at 21:28. Reason: Forgot to google share the photos....
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Old Saturday 7th April 2018, 22:17   #3
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Such a wordy post and all that typing for nothing.

Out of nowhere the male shows up....he and female are now feeding chicks at a constant pace.

If I had to bet, I would have given odds the male was gone for good.

Could not be happier...!!!
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Old Friday 27th April 2018, 00:40   #4
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My math was off on the high end by 2 days....I'm pretty certain fledging day is tomorrow, the 27th.

We had 2 days of inclement weather; one day cold and wet, rain and near freezing at night, cold in the morning with a half day drying out. Not sure but I'm guessing this threw off the schedule.

This chick had enough of the box, wanted out but the M and F were having none of it. Not sure why? Could be the other chicks weren't ready (my guess) or too late in the day, 1pm, for fledging? I've noticed in the past, fledging has taken place in the morning.

Anyway, both the M and F reined in the chick, herding it back in the box. It was enjoyable watching them search the twigs, huntin' down escapees. Took them awhile, finding no chicks they did a in-box head count and flew off.

The rest of the day, both the M & F had to jump by that fat chick's head, enter the box in order to feed the rest of the brood. It will be interesting to see how he compares in size to the rest of the chicks.

Hope I catch the fledging.......
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Old Friday 27th April 2018, 03:19   #5
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It wasn't meant to be.....the fatheaded chick (FHC) had other plans.

Got back to the patio after hitting Submit Reply and found the FHC on the ground, 8 feet from the nest.

It worked it's way over to my Plum Tree and climbed the trunk like a creeper. One of the adult BWs was sitting behind the tree on top of the fence post. The BW and chick hopped over to some bushes and into my neighbor's Live Oak. Lost them after that.

This was about 8pm, right at dusk.

15 minutes later one of the BWs flew from the Live Oak to a scrub tree, 40 feet or so, followed by the FHC. Took it all of 15 minutes to figure out how to fly.

It was getting dark fast.

The BW returned to the box with food, the FHC was still in the scrub tree. The BW flew to the Live Oak presumably to roost for the night.

The FHC decided to fly to the Plum Tree, all the while chirping for food.

Both BWs grab some food, hoping to entice the FHC back to the box. It worked but the commotion caused two other chicks to leave the box, climbing the twigs to the top of the fence.

The M & F tried herding the two new chicks but it didn't work.

The FHC flew off, the last I seen of it.

The other two chicks were a tad bit smaller and made no attempt to fly. They climbed back and forth over the fence, through the twigs on top of the box, all while chasing the M & F running the top of the fence line.

Making one last attempt, both BWs converged on top of the box. The two chicks followed, working their way through the twigs to the box.

The BWs flew off to roost for the night.

One of the chicks climbed out of the twigs, over the fence, falling into the neighbor's yard. The other chick stayed somewhere in the twigs.

That's it.....darkness fell.

It appears the brood had a total of 3 chicks. That's a low count for BWs, maybe it was her first year on eggs. Hope I don't find dead chicks when I clean the box.

No telling what tomorrow will bring.
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Old Friday 27th April 2018, 23:36   #6
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Well, they've moved on, all 4 of them.

The FHC was nowhere to be found. The other two chicks where located promptly at sunrise; one on the ground in the neighbor's yard, the other in the twigs covering the box.

The M & F spent nearly 3 hours in the yard before flying off. I could hear the chicks chirping 2, 3 houses down but it went silent in short order.

For those interested in BWs, I'm linking to an old article on the study of their behavior.

The Condor Vol. 43, No. 2, Mar. - Apr., 1941
Behavior of the Bewick Wren (pp. 81-99)
by Edwin V. Miller

For those interest in data collection, here's a link to Edwin V. Miller 's field notes for the article. It's long, 244 page pdf. The notes start on page 7.

It was 6, 7 weeks filled with joy......I'll miss 'em, hope there's a second brood.

Last edited by SanAngelo : Saturday 28th April 2018 at 00:24. Reason: Spelling....
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Old Friday 4th May 2018, 01:00   #7
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It's looking good for a 2nd clutch.

The M & F showed up 2 days ago, the first time since fledging on the 27th. Only one chick in tow. They foraged the yard with no attempt at feeding the chick.

The M returned the following day laying claim on two boxes, depositing cursory twigs in each.

Today, May 3rd, the M & F were actively hauling nesting material into the box on the side of the house. I watched the action for a good while, no chicks anywhere in sight.

In the past, this box had a couple starter nests but always rejected by the female.

About the's a Bluebird box. You can see a "plug" in the top front of the box. That's the original hole. I plugged it and drilled a hole lower down on the front. I figured the box was too deep, maybe the reason it was rejected. I'll be really surprised if the nesting goes full term.

My only clear view of the box is through a window in a shed. What you see in the photo is about all I see of the box. Directly in front of the window and slightly below is another shed. If there's a second brood the most I can hope for is catching the chicks exiting the box. I'll have no view of the chicks on the ground.

To the left of the box is a window. It's doubled screened, 2nd layer Solar Screen, there's no clear view for photos/viewing. However, I can set up a recorder and catch the M & F enticing the chicks when it comes time to fledge. That's a good thing.

Nothing to do but wait......
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Old Wednesday 23rd May 2018, 00:20   #8
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Out of sight, out of mind.....

I forgot about the wrens until this morning, cutting the grass I spooked the female from the nest.

With the box on the side of the house, I just don't see 'em. Their new flyway takes them through my neighbor's yard, no longer flying past my windows.

Early afternoon I stood in the shed watching the box, it's the only view I have. Caught the female coming and going, every 15 minutes or so. Watched her do that 3 times. The 1st 2 times she came back empty handed, no food. The last time she came back with a feather so I'm guessing she's sitting on eggs.

Workin' the math from the 3rd when they stared the nest:

7 to 10 day to build the nest = brings it to the 10-13 May
6 to 7 days for a full set of eggs = brings it to the 19-20 May
14 to 16 days incubation = brings it to 3-5 June
14 to 16 days till fledging = brings it to 17-19 June

If she drops another 3 eggs, fledging will be somewhere around 13-15 June.

I've only heard the male, didn't see him today. He's singing and laying claim to my neighbor's trees. Workin' the east side of my house, same side the box is on.

Seems like there's a good amount of bugs. The Kingbirds aren't fighting the Mockingbirds and I've already seen a neighborhood clutch of Cruve-billed thrashers.....everyone's gettin' fat.

Kingbirds working on their 1st clutch, I think they only have one. Mockingbirds already had a clutch, don't know if they have two. Same for the Thrasher, don't know if they have more than one. Sparrows could be on their 5th clutch for all I know...!!
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Old Tuesday 29th May 2018, 01:53   #9
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Math was off, don't know when or how many hatched but she actively feeding.

Guessing, everything needs to be backed up 7 or 8 days. If that's the case, the nest was built in about 5 days. Maybe the M prepped it a couple days before the F gave her approval.

Watched the F's coming and going 3 times today; morning, afternoon, early evening. No frantic pace, leisurely returning with small morsel barely visible in her beak.

No sign of the M nor was she calling. Hoping he's still around, haven't heard him singing in a couple days. She's going to need help shortly.

One good thing, the box she choose has early morning exposure then it's all shade. AM tempts in mid 70s, mid 80s when the sun moves off the box. Full sun tempts in the little bird.
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Old Wednesday 6th June 2018, 02:51   #10
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Spent the past week, on-n-off, standing in the shed keeping an eye out for the male. Couldn't take much, inside tempts a good 110F+, outside temps in the 90-100s.

Only thing to do....purchased a wifi IP cam.

Picked up the Amcrest IP3M-943. At this point, I know enough about the camera, topic, to show off my ignorance.

As for nest box viewing, I'm liking it. The stream looks excellent on my 4K monitor, just a tad bit less on HDTV.

Screen shots are nothing to brag about but that's not why I bought it. To re-cap the need, I'm dying to know how many chicks are in the second clutch.

With luck....without operator error....I should have my answer in less than a week.

I can hear the chicks, although they're not loud; must be in the cup of the nest, no heads seen at the hole.

Till today, I haven't seen the M and F together. She called for him late morning and early afternoon. It appears, up till this point, he was okay with her doing the feeding. He spent the rest of the afternoon sharing the duties.

Attached are two daytime and one nighttime reference photos, an example of how the screen shots turn out. The camera is approx 3 feet below the box and 7 feet from it.

About the nighttime shot.....does anyone know if the IR LED lights trained on the box bothers the bird?

The black spot in the center of the hole is the bird. I watched for a while before I turned off the camera. She was moving around a lot, don't know if it's the chicks or the IR lights causing her to be restless?
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Old Saturday 16th June 2018, 17:04   #11
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7 chicks fledged over a 4 day period, June 9th - June 12th.

An 8th chick, dead, was removed from the box by an adult BW.

6 June was F's last night in the box with the brood.

⦁ 2 chicks fledged the 9th; at 11am and 8pm.
⦁ 3 chicks fledged the 10th; two around 1pm and one around 3pm.
⦁ Dead chick removed on the 11th around 11:30am
⦁ 2 chicks fledged the 12th; both around 11:30am

All had down fluff on their heads. Of those observed, none could fly well into the following day.

Only 3 fledged chicks made it beyond 24hrs, of those 1 chick was attended by adult birds at the end of the 13th. Chick last seen on the 14th.

Throughout the 10th, 11th, 12th both M & F repeatedly searched and called for the chicks. On the 13th, after morning calls, they gave up and tended to the last remaining chicks.

On the 10th, the chirping attracted a single Blue Jay. 2 chicks were hunkered down in the twigs on top of the box. I'm pretty sure the Jay made off with one chick. Although the twigs and lighting obscured the camera, the behavior indicated he got what he came for.

It's what Jays spring, early summer, I had a Jay fly to the baths occupied by 3 or 4 Inca Doves. He stood off to the side, when one of the doves hopped off the bowl the Jay grabbed it by the neck and flew off.

Anyway, neither adult BWs witnessed the assault.

Later on the 10th 3 more chicks fledged, all scattered due to commotion in my neighbor's yard.

I now thought the box was empty; 5 chicks was a good count for a second clutch. Never had more than 5 chicks in years past, 1st or 2nd clutch.

Breaking off the search one adult did a cursory check on box, left and returned with food. Did this 4 or 5 times, by night fall a tiny beak appeared just below the final undernourished chick was brought back to life.

The rest of the afternoon, into early evening on the 10th, both BWs pursued a frantic search for the 5 fledged chicks all the while tying to feed the remaining chick in the box. Occasionally they would find one only to lose it while searching for others.

By the end of the day, the fledged chicks slipped through the fence line and into my neighbor's yard finding refuge under a fig tree.

The morning of the 11th, both M & F were gently calling and searching for the 5 fledged chicks. Unbeknownst to them, a Jay took one on the 10th so 4 were missing. They spend all day on the 11th searching and feeding the chick in the box, never finding the previously fledged chicks.

Having found scat under the box at the fence line, I suspect the chicks were taken by a feral cat....or Jays or Grackles, who knows..??

Early morning on the 11th I noticed two small beaks at the hole. Couldn't believe it, 7 chicks, a full brood..!!

Then around 11:30am an adult bird removes a dead chick from the box. I'm watching this on the IP camera at 30fps, it happens quick. Flew off with it's body between it's beak. I could see it legs and feet dangling, it looked emaciated.

The last two chicks stayed in the box all day on the 11th, fledging around 11:30am on the 12th. Again, Jays and commotion from my neighbors scattered the chicks.

On the morning of the 13th after searching and calling they located one chick. Still didn't have it's wings, gliding to low bushes but not able to make it up a tree.

Last chick seen on the 14th hanging with it's parents. Today, the 16th, both M & F have been calling all appear it didn't survive the night.

A few odd things:

⦁ One morning around 6:20am or so, the F left the box and flew over to the bird bath, hoped right in and completely immersed herself. She took a serious bath like a Blue Jay would, completely drenching herself. I never seen a BW take a water bath prior to this, let alone an early morning dunk right out of her box. Actually, I've only seen a BW drink water once and that was years ago.

⦁ 2nd clutch with 8 eggs, never had a clutch of more than 5 eggs.

⦁ 4 day fledging period, never witnessed that before.

⦁ Removal of the dead chick, never witnessed that before.

⦁ On the 13th, both M & F with chick in tow, started to build a nest in a hanging box just above my patio door. This morning, the 15th, at 7:30am they were still at it.

Concerning this 3rd nest, my past readings only mention the possibility of 2 broods. That said, the odds are it's a dummy nests but why now, right after fleding with a chick in tow, and why is the F helping build the nest?

My understanding; dummy nests are built by the M. Not to mention, average time between broods is 43 days..!!..??
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Old Wednesday 4th July 2018, 23:51   #12
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Haven't seen the eggs but all indications point to a 3rd brood.

While working in the yard I noticed a BW entering the hanging box.

Made 4 visit in an hour; sometimes entering the box, sometimes sticking it's head in, sometimes eye-balling it thru the hole.

As I walked into the house a BW flew out of the box. Had to be the F with the M doing the coming and going.

Had M nest building activity for a week after the 2nd brood. Somewhere around June 22nd was the last time I saw a BW.

I heard the M singing during the week of the 25th. This past weekend, into this week, I heard the F calling a couple times; gentle, short calls. Stuck my head out every time, never found the bird.

Not a lot of studies out there for BWs. When google'd, the default goes to House Wren with a BW paper or two intermingled.

An occasional mention of a 3rd clutch, most data only mentions 2.

The only in-dept data on a 3rd clutch was under a link on a google search page:

Bewick's Wren - Demography and Populations | Birds of North ...

The synopsis stated:

Regional trends in Bewick's Wren populations; data from the Breeding Bird Survey, ... and 3 of 41 (7%) laid 3 clutches in 1 season (including at least 1 clutch that failed ... In Oregon, only 2 of 30 males (6%) raised 2 broods; 1 was polygynous ...

None of which was include in the article, I don't know where it came from or where the BBS was done.

Why would google include it in the synopsis when not mentioned in the article? Google use to have a "Cache" option under a link but that feature went away.

Searching, I found a similar article but the data was also missing.

Texas A&M AggieLife has 8% of nesting taking place in June with 1% in July. No mention of a 3rd brood, only 2.

Unfortunately I don't believe I'll see the clutch come to term. I have surgery in a week or so, laying me up a good while. I'll do my best to keep an eye on things, nothing I would like better than seeing a 3rd brood fledge.
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Old Thursday 12th July 2018, 00:51   #13
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Definitely a nesting bird sitting in this box.

I've seen it 5 times since the 4th. Unintentionally spooked it twice, the last time early this evening.

I have limited viewing from the sun room. While taking photos, offering up an example what I'm dealing with, the F returned 15 minutes or so after being spooked.

Have no idea where she's at with the incubation.
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Old Sunday 15th July 2018, 02:06   #14
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Eggs are hatching.

No feeding yesterday.

This morning, found the F coming and going with small morsels.

F gently calling early AM while sitting on the box. Haven't seen the M.

M was also MIA during the 1st brood incubation, showing up shortly after the 1st day or 2 of feeding.

Doing the math backwards....

Nest building within 5 days of the last brood.
Last egg laid around July 1st.
First egg hatched today, July 14th.
Fledging date approx July 28th
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Old Thursday 14th March 2019, 21:08   #15
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Update on 2018's 3rd brood

I had surgery 2 days after my last post; pins in the foot, severed nerves, immobile or limited movement till the end of September.

Around October 1st I took the 3rd box down, didn't bother to clean it.

I'm behind in everything......noticed the BWs building a nest in a cardboard box under my neighbor's, I broke out the boxes to prep for hanging.

Popped the top on the 3rd brood box, found; 3 broken eggs, one dead chick, no other remains or fecal sacs.

As previously mention, there's little on the internet with regards to BWs having 3 broods. Most refer to double-broods, occasionally a 3rd brood is mentioned "as possible" in their extreme southern range.

As I recall, one of the links in post # 12 made reference to 3 broods and their failure. That link has since reverted to "Subscription" for full article access.

I also found this 1946 pdf file on nest failures; Bewick's Wren Nesting Data, page 4 in the Summary.

The only predation I know of is the House Wren. Not a year-round resident in my patch, I normally see 'em mid October.

Any thoughts.......

What happen to this nest?

If this was a normal hatching wouldn't the shells be removed from the box?

If the other two chicks came to term wouldn't they have crushed the shells prior to fledging?

Does the absence of fecal sacs suggest parent birds attending to the nest?

Is it possible there were 4 eggs? The 1st egg hatched, the shell was removed, fecal sacs removed, and then the female disappeared? Chick died, eggs dried up and cracked in the 100 degree temps?

That's it.....that all I got.
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