Artsy Wrens

Well, first of all, as of Thursday, the Meadowlark has been singing again, which I think is amazing. Apparently the moratorium on joyful song after the loss of a brood lasts ten days. But now they are over, and the living commences once again!

Today as I fought to sleep in past 4am, the wrens, grosbeaks and squirrels were doing their best to make sure I did not. The cacophany coming from our front yard tree islands was deafening and suspicious. Deafening because they have no respect for sleeping persons, and suspicious because I think they actually take joy in waking us up. The squirrels and grosbeaks (and the occasional thrush) go through this interesting ritual where they take turns trying to bring down the trees. Honestly, you would think that a bald eagle or a turkey vulture was trying to lift off of our crowded little feeder, and having a bit of trouble getting through the thick foliage. But when you look out at the ruckus, a wee little grosbeak, or a bright-tailed thrush emerges, belying the magnitude of the disruption and flittering away innocently.

The squirrels in turn have founded an acrobatics club in honor of keeping me awake. I heard the gray squirrel lamenting in the general direction of the red squirrel the other day. They are jealous of the flying squirrels, and they intend to do something about it. Evolution is at work in my front yard as they and their little friends crash from tree to tree in the most ungraceful of manners, determined to change their stars and claim a little more of the airborne glory their cousins are always hogging.

And the wrens? The wrens took the prize. You see the rusty windchimes in the picture? If they were facing you, you would see that they are fashioned in the image of a haggard moose, his little feet acting as small bells below his bell-like body, and supporting the chimes themselves. His metal head bobs in the wind as his wire neck struggles to keep it up. Long ago the dealibop that hangs from the middle of the chimes – the part that clangs into them – disappeared and I had to replace it with a 1/2″ nut.

This morning, in the midst of the unnatural rocking of the foliage and the all-too-natural volume of the birdsong, a new noise joined. The chimes were tinkling. Intermittently violent, then silent, not at all like the constant fine tinkle produced on a breezy day, or the clambered tinkle given off on a truly windy day. It was different, like when my kids were little and thought it the greatest thing in the world to ride their bikes around the yard and set off the moose chimes with their helmets as they passed under. Man-made, one would conclude.

But it was not man-made. The tiny-yet-boisterous wrens that live in the little bungalo next door were discovering a new plaything. They were sitting on the moose’s back, dodging his bobbing blade of a head, and they were taking turns dropping off his distended belly and flying into his useless hooves, rattling the works and jangling their musical fancy into the morning air. I thought for sure I was imagining it, but no, they kept on for a good many minutes, every few seconds fluttering clumsily off the edge, whacking hoof and chime pipes with foot and wings, laughing heartily to themselves the whole time. Over and over they kicked at their music-makers, not stopping until the minute I peeked my head around the corner of the house with a camera. Suddenly, they were off into the treetops going busily about their non-musical morning chores, feeding the babes in their dangling cottage house like nothing out-of-the-ordinary had ever happened.


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