While we were gone over the weekend, the kids fledged and the nest box was emptied. As quickly and mysteriously as he appeared, they had all left. The quiet about The Ranch is deafening, neither Sharon nor I realized how much we came to depend on that little House Wrens company the past month! Always amazing how quickly one can get attached to a critter!
I knew time was getting close to the kids leaving home. I spent every single moment I could the last week out enjoying their antics and behind the lens photographing all the activity. Mom & Dad would from sun up to sun down bring in bugs to the box. Don’t know how many kids were in there but the book says it can be up to ten! Even during one of the afternoon down pours when we had nickle sized hail, there they were hauling food to that box. I always knew when it was the male coming in. He would land and flutter his wings (like you see in the video at the top of the website) which I always thought of as excitement of being a dad (there is a biological reason though). And he was always the gentleman, letting the mom go in the hole and feed the kids first, him waiting on the perch with the withering bug in his bill. And they brought in every bug they could find! You’ll see a few examples in the slideshow below.
I would prefocus on the perch on a section I thought he would land on by the direction I saw him approach. I had to acquire them quickly in the viewfinder as they would only perch for a heartbeat prior to going in the box. The speed of the Z 9 AF Firmware 2.1 was greatly appreciated! I was just standing there, out in the open behind the Z 9 / 800f5.6 AFS, I wasn’t hiding and he knew quite well it was me. Working in good light was a challenge the last few days. Though good light was on him, I was standing in the full, hot sun. I was wearing my wide brim hat to hide from the sun which he did not like and he told me so. I know that because he gave me the same scolding he gave the Western Bluebird when it came and landed on his perch to investigate the activity at the box. I was bad and took the hat off. It made him happy.
To get a bigger image size, I needed to get closer physically so I attached a extension tube permitting me to move fourteen inches closer and increase the image size by about 18 %. That was about as comfortable as the male was to me though Maggie would often lay down below the nest box while I was shooting and that didn’t phase either adult. On my last shoot as it turned out at the box, I finally started to hear the chirps of the nestlings and I knew I wouldn’t see them fledge as we were leaving the next morning. At the same time, the activity of the parents was at a fevered pitch bringing in bugs it seemed every couple of minutes. One of the last shots I got is the one above, the male perched on the pine behind the box in the morning sun. For once, he sat darn still and for him, a long time in one place, perhaps forty to fifty seconds. It was like he knew, it would be our last time.
We got back to The Ranch a couple days later and as we pulled in, I saw a House Wren out front and I knew they had fledged. When I open the door to the truck, I heard what had become that oh so familiar and heart warming call and then, it was gone. Chores around The Ranch the past couple of days have not been quite the same without his company, it’s pretty quiet. Then, when I sat down to write this post, outside my office window I heard my friend. He was perched in the aspen outside my window, looking in and singing. Then off he flew after the family heading out. What a great spring! Loved every moment except at the end. Can’t wait until next spring to see if the story continues!