A Question about A Carolina Wren Nest and Eggs

donnalovesblueMay 5, 2009

For the second straight year, CAWRS have built a nest in a wall planter next to my patio. Last year, I did not ever check the nest, so I don't know when she laid eggs and began incubating, but I do remember when they fledged.

I hadn't seen the wrens in two days, so today I pulled up a chair and peeked, and I think there are 3 eggs...very surprising since I thought they were still building.

Also surprised that I haven't seen the parents as I would think she should be incubating unless she's not finished laying? Is that a reasonable assumption? I'd love to hear from anyone who has experience with these adorable birds.

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Do not check stick nests, as it is not necessary and it attracts other predators. Enjoy the fledglings when they hatch.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 7:37PM
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Sialis has a lot of info on Carolina Wrens

Here is a link that might be useful: Carolina Wren

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 11:15PM
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Thanks. From Sialis:

Monitoring: May abandon nests during construction or egg laying if disturbed (or female is captured). Some show no fear of humans when nesting in outbuildings. Adult may chatter loudly when nest area is approached. When roosting, flushed birds often return. Female may not flush when nest is monitored, unless she is touched. DO NOT OPEN BOX ON OR AFTER DAY 8 AS NESTLINGS MAY FLEDGE PREMATURELY.

Nesting Timetable (typical):

* Excavation or nest site selection: May start nesting earlier when it is warmer out. Occasionally new nest built at some site of previous nest.
* Nest construction: Female chooses final site, both sexes help build nest. Males may build dummy nests in territory. Female continues to line nest cup after incubation begins. Most construction happens in the morning, in 4 - 7 days or more. Nest is a bulky, somewhat messy mass of debris like leaves (and leaf skeletons) with some coarse hay/grass, small twigs, moss, little roots, weed stalks; strips of bark, plastic or even snakeskin; generally domed with tunnel-like entrance; and lined with feathers, animal hair, Spanish moss, wool, and fine grasses; sometimes paper, string, thread, wool or rags.
* Egg laying: Typically four to five eggs; set of eight recorded. One laid each day, usually within 1-2 hours of sunrise, from March through April for first brood, depending on location. Eggs are white/pale pink or rosy tint/light gray (larger than other wren eggs); usually with heavy brown/reddish-brown flecks often heavily concentrated at larger end. Little or no gloss, unlike House Wren. See photos.
* Incubation: Begins with penultimate or last egg. Female may spend night in nest after first egg. Only female incubates, and often does not flush during monitoring.
* Hatching: In 12-14 or 16 days. Newborns are altricial, with orange-pink, translucent skin. Pale grayish down in most feather tracts. Bill is yellowish, mouth lining is red. Eggs may hatch within 10 hours of each other. Asynchronous hatching possible.
* Development: Day 0 - pigmented alar tracts. Day 1, alar sheaths emerge through skin. Day 2, tracts show pigmentation, eyes may open to small slit. Day 3 - eyes open. Day 4, spinal, ventral and femoarl tracts emerge through skin. Day 5, mother may stop brooding during day, sheaths of all tracts emerged, none ruptured. Up to days 4-5, parents eat fecal sacs, after they carry them away. Nestlings may beg until day 5-6, after that they cower. Day 6 -7 sheaths ruptured. Female may spend night in nest up to day 7 or later. Both parents feed young (female may take food from male to feed), usually one food item per trip.
* Fledging: Young hop or fly out of nest, 10-16 days after hatching (typically 12), maybe in morning. Juvenile plumage is looser and paler. Bills only 52% of adult length. Parents feed fledglings initially - male may get stuck with feeding if female starts another clutch.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 6:22AM
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Female birds of any kind do not sit on the eggs until they are completely done laying them.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 7:07AM
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Many thanks all! Still no sign of Mom or Dad this morning, but late yesterday afternoon (5 or 6pm), I heard them in a tree in the backyard. I guess this is just a wait and see situation and I hope she hasn't abandoned the nest. The planter is about 10 feet from our outdoor gas grill and I am constantly in and out, feeding birds, etc. so I was surprised last year when they chose the planter as their nesting site.

They are such delightful birds so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that everything is OK.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 9:53AM
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Mama finally came back to the nest...yeah! I hope that means all is well for the time being. I had to leave the house for awhile so I don't know how long she stayed, but I have a great view of the planter from my den window.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 4:44PM
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Actually, Cathy, some birds do start incubating before all eggs are laid, namely raptors. That is why eggs of most hawks and owls hatch asynchronously with the oldest and youngest chicks being as much as 5-6 days apart.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 5:28PM
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Thanks BN I worded that very poorly. You really should never say never with nature. LOL I don't know of any song birds in this country that do that. Are there any?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 6:42PM
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In the U.S, aside from raptors and owls, the one group that comes to mind with asynchronous hatching are the cuckoos (yellow-billed, black-billed, and the Greater Roadrunner). There may be others, but for songbirds/passerines, there aren't any that I am aware of.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 6:52PM
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I believe that Tree Swallows begin the day before the last egg is laid, which usually causes one of them (the last egg laid) to be the runt

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 11:15PM
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I have not really noticed that with my Tres but maybe I have not paid close enough attention. I will try to see if mine do that this year. They are here but have not nested yet.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 9:24AM
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