NO BARBEQUE THIS SUMMER

by Sally Blanchard

Friends of mine when I lived in Wichita, Kansas had bird feeders all over their yard and a house wren house on every corner of their house. One male house wren had a girlfriend in every wren house ... talk about promiscuous. Their yard was a bird watcher's delight. When I just sat quietly on their patio, I could see dozens of local species and a few unusual ones. Wichita was actually a great birdwatching place. There were birds from the east and birds from the west, a few birds from the south, and it was on a significant flyway. 

Joe and Helen Brewer often had friends over and sometimes Joe barbecued. One Sunday they had planned a social gathering for a dozen or so friends. Helen marinated the meat and it was time to light the coals in the barbecue. Helen had tried to get Joe to clean the barbeque out and get it ready for the summer, but he had dragged his feet so it didn't get done. Finally she put her foot down and insisted that he get the fire going. As he lifted the lid of the barbeque, he was greeted with a serious complaint. There was a fully functioning Carolina Wren nest with 4 babies in the barbecue and the mother was going to defend her nest no matter what it took. Luckily she had nested in the barbecue of people who loved birds. Joe came into the house and told Helen that there would be no barbecuing that summer. She said something like, "...and why not!?" Of course when he told her that the barbecue was now a bird house, she called her close neighbors who were coming for dinner and they volunteered their barbecue. The babies in the Brewer's barbecue fledged successfully  I have since heard of wrens of one species or another improvising nests in all sorts of unique places.

Charley Harper created delightful animal and bird art with a great sense of humor. One of my favorite examples of this is his statement about wrens using whatever site they can find for a nest. The artwork shown is called Wrenovation.


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