If At First You Don’t Succeed

May 25, 2020
Tom Poland

By Tom Poland


Among my father’s passions were birds and woodworking. He made bluebird boxes in his workshop and mounted them around home. He loved hummingbirds and looked for a hummingbird nest all his life. He looked and looked. Never found one. Well, some nests find us, and that’s where Dad’s interest in woodwork and birds dovetail.

Dad’s been gone nigh seventeen years, Mom over five. When my sisters and I went through their possessions my sisters wanted me to have a small cabinet Dad made. That cabinet had long hung in the kitchen, a resting place for blue-and-white China bric-a-brac.

I didn’t want the cabinet. I didn’t have anywhere for it. Then I realized it would make a good place for grilling accessories. I put it on my deck by my grill. Works like a charm. But I can’t use it now, not for a while. On a cool morning I spotted a clump of moss, pine needles, and leaves atop the two-door, hardware cloth cabinet. Into spy mode I go. Soon a Carolina wren landed atop it carrying green moss in its beak.

Documenting nest building and the raising of baby wrens seemed like a good story, but just one day of stalking the wrens stopped nest building cold. It bothered me, but something told me to leave the nesting material atop the cabinet.

In spring and summer if I’m home my garage door is up. The next day I went into the garage and the wrens were building a nest in a rack where I keep car-washing supplies. Well, that won’t do. I closed the door. “Now they really hate me,” I thought. This makes two times I’ve ruined their plans.

Saturday afternoon I noticed that the nest on Dad’s cabinet had doubled in size. My plans to document their life cycle received new life, but I’m being cautious. I’m giving the birds space until they’ve “closed” on their beautiful new home.

Sunday I sat quietly on the deck. Over time the birds accepted me. I sit and take photos. Once, though, when I went out with my camera, a wren flew to a nearby tree and scolded me. You could tell she wasn’t happy, yes she. She sounded like an upset mother to be. Mom would have said she gave me a reading, which in my time was one step from a whoopin.’ It’s difficult to tell the male from the female as Carolina wrens go. Subtle differences exist but I know that was the female.

Soon I hope to get photos of the brown and white eggs, if possible. I sure don’t want to run them away again. At first they didn’t succeed, nor did I, but this time I plan to photograph six or so baby Carolina wrens.

My grilling will slow down a bit but it’ll be worth it if I can document a brood of wrens making their way into the world. And Dad? He never found a hummingbird nest, but his woodwork is giving these jaunty wrens a home. That little cabinet of his? Turns out it’s the biggest nesting box he built.


Photo by Tom Poland

Visit Tom’s website at www.tompoland.net

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