Anne opens the back door to put seeds in the bird feeder and flushes a couple of little brown fuzzy feathered birds that hop, run and barely fly away. It is a gray day with threat of showers and thunderstorms. After she comes back into the house, I watch intently to see if the tiny birds return.
I see one under the bird feeder. I can tell it is a fledgling because it still has tufts of down sticking out of its feathered head and body, and a yellow lipstick beak. I’m not sure what kind it is at first, but suddenly on the fence above it dad calls with a quick, short whistle. It is the normally shy, Carolina wren. Mom appears on the top of the fence, looks around and drops to the ground; the chick opens its mouth wide to accept a small caterpillar.
I watch the adults to see where they go so I can find the rest of the family. There is a second baby under a nearby bush that they bring food to. Dad perches on the fence about 10 feet away from the first chick and I scour the ground under him for the rest of the family. I find four more huddling together on pine needles; all are dozing except for one that watches for the parents to return with food.
Mom and dad glean insects from the nearby trees, shrubs and from the ground to feed the youngsters. Occasionally, they fly to the feeder to pick out a small seed to serve to the fledglings. Eventually all six chicks huddle together and take turns accepting food from the parents.
As night falls, Anne points to the backyard window where there is something fluttering against it. I open the door to see that one of the fledglings seems lost and insists on flying into the window. A light rain is falling now so I decide to place it in a ceramic feeder that has two large openings. At least here it will be out of the rain. When I go to check on it a few minutes later it is gone, but out of the corner of my eye I see one of the adults fly out from under our barbecue grill.
I guess the family is taking shelter there for the night and I look forward to seeing them again.