Updated: Now that I’ve seen the mother bird, I know this is actually a Northern Cardinal’s nest! See more posts about her at Back Yard Science.
Our back yard is a bastion of kid-friendly landscaping. By which I mean… it’s full of holes the kids have dug, the hedges are pruned for ideal hiding spots rather than beauty, and most of the grass has been killed by being covered with outdoor toys for long periods of time. (I know you are now wishing that you were our next door neighbor, because your yard would look AWESOME next to ours. Don’t worry, there’s a high fence to protect the neighbor’s sensibilities. And I fill in anything that looks potentially ankle breaking, usually over strenuous objections.)
I was doing a little maintenance on the hedge tunnel when I stood up and came face to face with this nest. Apparently it is unusual for them to be built so low to the ground, and also for the mother bird to be MIA. But I snapped this photo to show the kids and explain why the hedge tunnel is closed for now. (Insert object lesson from Jemima Puddleduck, who let her eggs go cold and so they didn’t hatch.) I snuck out this morning to see if she had returned, and was able to see her on her nest. She had her back turned, and was giving me a suspicious glare, even though I peered through the foliage from afar. I tried to get a photo for you, but she decided that this was all very dodgy behavior on my part and took off. (I’ll try again later.)
Carolina Wren Call:
Carolina Wrens divide the parenting workload. Dad builds the nest, Mom incubates the eggs, and they both feed the babies until they fledge. They may have two or three broods a year! The eggs take 12-16 days to hatch. We will be following the progress of this family with the dudes! Hopefully, they’ll agree that this opportunity makes up for the temporary closure of the hedge tunnel!
If you are trying to identify the birds you spot in your yard, visit What Bird with your kids. Have fun!
Bird lesson resources:
- Everything Preschool Bird Lesson
- Pre-K-8 Lesson materials about birds
- Bright Hub Bird Lesson with movement activities
- Bird Coloring pages identified by species
- The Complete Book of Birdhouse Construction for Woodworkers (Dover Woodworking) Birdhouse building plans (affiliate link.)
- National Wildlife Federation instructions on how to create a back yard bird habitat