Adventures in Gardening and Birds #wren #MaryOliver #birds #flowers

Near the entrance to my house I have three green plastic pots, grown less green with age, fitted into wrought iron holders. Each spring I plant vibrant flowers in these containers, sometimes draping sky blue lobelia or eggplant colored ipomoea but more often lately it’s perky calibrochoa that continuing blooming despite the DC heat.

Five years ago before I planted anything, a mourning dove decided it looked like a nice rent-free place to raise a family.

Nest mourning dove, Spring, 2018.

I became invested in the mourning dove and her prospective eggs. Exits were now made through the side door: walking dogs, trash removal, going to work. Return entrances too, obviously. The mourning doves, who mate for life, exchanged places dutifully on the nest. And then a blue jay happened. The eggs were eaten, the nest discarded, and I unhappily removed the pot putting it aside for when I’d plant some happy flowers in it. It didn’t quite seem like the place for a happy planting yet.

Like most somewhat intelligent animals, I learned from that experience and in March I remove the pots from the holders and set them aside so that they don’t tempt another mourning dove to nest in them.

This year I planted tangerine calibrachoa and purple verbena, maybe a little Halloweenish, but bright and cheerful, nevertheless.

Upon returning from vacation last week, I set about fertilizing all of my plants. As I was lifting the watering can up to the planter, a flash of brown darted out. I definitely, audibly, gasped…I don’t remember a soft shriek, but it could have happened. Then I stood there with the watering can in hand thinking about my options. I pulled down the pot and examined it for eggs. None. So, I could go ahead and fertilize the pot or I could just leave it alone, let the wren–as I soon discovered it to be–alone to lay her eggs and raise her family. I chose the latter, mostly because I love wrens. I probably would have chosen the latter regardless of the species of bird, but let’s just blame it on the fact that it was a wren. Or not blame, but be grateful.

Is there anything happier than a wren? Oh, probably there is, but I love their song that emanates from such a tiny body. How they grab peanuts I’ve put out for the squirrels that are practically as big as they are.

This morning because I hadn’t seen the wren lately and the flower needed water, I did check to see if the nest was inhabited. Yes, there were two tiny eggs there. And if you zoom in on the picture below, you’ll be able to see at least one of them.

In the hollow beneath the calibrachoa is a wren nest.

I am leaving the watering to Mother Nature. I figure the wren is prepared for natural occurrences.


An excerpt from Mary Oliver’s “The Wren from Carolina”; you can read the poem in its entirety here. It comes from her collection entitled, Why I Wake Early. Do check out the whole poem because it’s beautiful (it’s Mary Oliver!).

Just now the wren from Carolina buzzed

through the neighbor’s hedge

a line of grace notes I couldn’t even write down

much less sing. 

Now he lifts his chestnut colored throat

and delivers such a cantering praise–

for what?

Mary Oliver

5 thoughts on “Adventures in Gardening and Birds #wren #MaryOliver #birds #flowers

  1. I think Mary Oliver’s work is terrific. I think your narrative is terrific, too. The lives of birds is reinforced plus our–well, your–relational approach. I’ve had doves nest beside my room air-conditioner. I didn’t brush their area, of course, and listened to their voices large and small as the spring wore into summer. Blue jays are pretty and also gruesome.

    1. Thank you. I am thrilled to attract so many birds to my yard but it also comes with the reality of nature, of how the beautiful, smart blue jays like eggs for breakfast too or how the grackles swoop in and intimidate the smaller birds. I haven’t quite accepted the bird hawks though despite knowing that they too need to eat. I just wish they’d dine elsewhere. 🙂 I hope you are well!

  2. Maybe they will be hidden enough so no one will see them who shouldn’t see them.

    1. I am hoping so. The wren had something in its beak (looked like a leaf, which I thought interesting) and was very careful, searching the surrounding trees before going into the nest. It’s certainly more discreet than the mourning dove’s had been. I obviously didn’t know it was there but then again it’s above my head…most things are. lol

  3. How wonderful, we had a dove nest in our peg basket one year. We saw the cracked eggsbut not the chicks, so I hope they escaped before disaster struck

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