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house wrenWe have a wren house in the yard, which has tenants every year, house wrens. So every early spring, my dad climbs up and takes it down and cleans it out, to prepare it for the new clutch of eggs. Wren nests are apparently prone to get infested with mites that attack the baby birds. Removing the old nesting material and cleaning the house with soap or bleach helps prevent the mites from staying over. (Wrens deal with this issue by collecting spider egg sacs and adding them to their nests. The spiders hatch and eat the mites. This is not my idea of a good housekeeping plan, but then, I have never had to live in a pile of sticks.)

It seems that the most recent clutch of wren eggs in the house last year didn't hatch, so when the house came down, as soon as the snow melted, there they were in the nest. My dad took the bottom off the house, unmolded the contents onto a wall in the yard, and let me know it was there. Photos below the orange worm waiting there for the early bird.

Most of the nest is a disorderly pile of twigs, in the shape of the inside of the house. The fluffy things on some of the sticks are not spider egg sacs -- the wren grabbed some dried pussy willows from a spring wreath the neighbors put out, and that's what most of the fuzzballs are.

wren nest

There's a little cup of finer twigs for the eggs at one end of the nest, lined with feathers or something softer than the sticks.

wren nest with eggs

It wouldn't surprise me if some creature were to make off with the little eggs, although I can't imagine they'd be good to eat now. Birds, probably including the wrens, will steal the sticks and other materials to make new nests. And hopefully, the wrens will have better luck this year.

closer view of eggs



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