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Bewick's Wren - 1st Clutch 2017

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Old Thursday 6th April 2017, 01:39   #1
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Bewick's Wren - 1st Clutch 2017

A short update on the local Spring Migration.....

The Black-chinned Hummingbirds (males) arrived on the 24th of March. The females showed up about a week later. Ruby-throated usually come through before the Black-chin's but none showed this year. Multiple feeders will go up as we move through spring. For now, I have one in the back and one in the front. Both have their own set of hummers. As for their nests, I never found one...don't know where they go.

The Western Kingbirds are due back in a week or so. They nest in the neighbor's trees but I provide the nesting materials; cotton bolls that I tie to the top of the shepard's hook.

The Bullock's Orioles arrived around the 17th of April. They too like the cotton bolls but sadly, I don't know where they nest.

Bewick's Wren - 1st Clutch

The Bewick's Wrens are year long residents. The male from last year hung around the house all winter. I caught him chasing off an intruder around the 1st of March. I wonder if it was one of last year's offspring?

We had a warm winter; no snow, I think we got a freeze once or twice. Tree buds started early and the BW started nest building around mid February. I thought it was way too early, I didn't pay it any mind although I did alter the features of their nest box.

First I hung an experimental box from my patio roof about two feet from the door. The male took interest about a week or so later; started building a nest. Early in March I found the female looking it over but it wasn't to her liking. I think it was too close to the door.

Next, I relocated a box off a fence run that got full sun, it also was regularly attacked by House Sparrows.

I moved that box to the fence run right next to the 1st clutch box from last year. This spot gets sun about 80% of the day. I then shoved a bunch of twigs all around the box hoping it would provide a little sun block. I did the work in mid February and forgot about it.

About the 23rd of March I noticed the male running insects to the box. Didn't hear chirping so I figured he was feeding the female or maybe the chicks just hatched. Around the 26th of March there was a good bit of noise. From the chirping I'm guessing two or three chicks.

Yesterday I noticed the BW was no longer entering the box when feeding. First time I noticed that, so I figured fledging was in a couple days. All this time I never saw the male and female together. It had me stumped, thinking she was still in the box.

Today, late morning, I heard a lot of BW singing. Didn't pay attention, figuring it was call and response between the male and female. Around 6pm I sat out back hoping to see some the nest activity. 10 minutes goes by no bird in sight, then 20, 30, and an hour goes by with nothing happening. I figured I'd sneak up and look in the opening.....sure enough, the box was empty...!!

All I can hope for now is see the mother with the chicks running the fence line.

This was a really early clutch. Counting back, they dropped the eggs around the 11th of March, hatched around the 23rd and fledged on the 5th of April.

In 2016 they dropped the eggs around the 28th of March, hatched around the 8th of April, fledged on the early evening of the 22nt of April.

This early activity caught me by surprise. Hope I pay better attention to the 2nd clutch..!!

Photos; the experimental hanging box, the 1st clutch boxes from 2016 (R) & 2017 (L), 2nd clutch box (L), and one of the BW's removing a fecal sac.
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Old Thursday 6th April 2017, 22:42   #2
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Location: San Angelo Tx
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It just wasn't so........

I'm a little sad, a little traumatized, the hard truths of nature has that effect when you're up close and personal.

I sat outside early this morning, double checking on the wren box. No one showed up; no wrens in sight and none singing. Sure that they fledged, I decided to pull down the box and clean it out, that's when I found 5 dead chicks.

Last night I was pretty confident there was nothing in the box; no movement, an empty nest. I didn't put my eye to the hole, I peered in from the end of my deck, about 3-4 feet from the hole. When I took the roof off the box you can see there's something like a big berm on the front of the nest facing the hole. Must have been what I saw.

All the signs were there but I read them wrong; not seeing the male and female together, always going in the box to feed until the 4th, the desperate singing mid morning on the 5th.

I didn't mention this in the OP, about a week ago we had high winds and heavy rain. The days prior I watched the feeding; wrens coming and going at a quick pace.

The day after the nightly rain I didn't see the wrens. Didn't spend much time observing, dismissed it as bad timing on my part. The next day I found the wren coming and going at a slower pace. The frequency of the foraging, returning with insects, were rather long and spaced pretty far apart.

I tried to remember when I last saw the male and female together, the best I got was early March when the female rejected the hanging box.

I'm thinking; all this time, since the rainy night, I've been seeing the same bird over and over.......but which one?

I emailed this story, with photos, to a Professor of Ornithology at our local University hoping he could answer a few questions; how old were the birds at their death, if the female dies or deserted the nest would the male sit on the newly born chicks, what may of happen to produce this out come?

His take was; cause of death most likely starvation because one of the parents (probably the male) died from an accident or predation. Guessing, he said the chicks were 3 or 4 days from fledging.

In the box, the smallest chick was on the bottom of the nest. The next smallest chick was belly up on top of it. The biggest chick was on the top, fully exposed and the other two were half exposed. So goes the pecking order.

Here's a couple links to the dead chicks.

Nest Box

Five Dead Chicks

I'm curious to know if anyone differs with the assessment being 3-4 days from fledging. I would like to do the math to figure out when the eggs were laid and when they hatched.

If anyone has an input I would appreciate it.

I understand if the Mods see fit to delete the links, it's not for everyone.
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