Back to Nature (Published on - March 15, 2007)
Spring has sprung
Photo by Karen Mitchell Tremmel
A Carolina wren family has taken up residence on top of a sheltered outdoor speaker.
The squirrels are working overtime gathering moss and twigs for nest building. The male cardinal is sporting his bright crimson jacket to woo his golden mate. Raucous blue jays in flashes of brilliant blue stage mock battles in the high oaks. A fresh shade of translucent sap green swashed over the forest canopy shimmers with each gently warmed breeze.

There’s something about all that spring activity … that zest for life, that reborn commitment to the future, family, species, renewed hope for the new season of births, flowers, fruit and cleansing rains that deems spring a favorite to humans and wildlife alike. Spring invokes a mixture of emotions; Spring fever is marked by restlessness and contentment, excitement and lethargy, energetic and laziness. In essence we simply don’t know what to do with ourselves so we cut the new blades of grass, clean out the garage, paint the walls, purchase new curtains, clean out the fireplace, organize a garage sale, wax the boat, dust off the canoe, air out the tent, open up the camper, Google the maps, shine up the motorcycle, waterproof the boots, rake the leaves, repot the plants, repair the screens. Whew! No wonder we collapse into a heap of blissful fatigue.

Animals understand this sensation. What humans don’t realize is that we are nesting. Yep, there it is, we are nesting. Right along with the cardinal, chickadee, wren, rabbit, fox, wolf, squirrel and all other members of the animal kingdom: we are nesting. We are gathering materials to make our nest a cozy place to ride out the summer storms, raise our babies or retire in comfort; a tuck here, a tuck there, a stick here, a beak of moss there.

As of a couple of weeks ago nests have appeared in every nook and cranny at our home. In the flower pots, atop the porch column, bunched in the crook of an oak branch, under an eve, and one particularly resourceful Carolina wren family has taken up residence on top of a sheltered outdoor speaker. There are bits and pieces of everything in their nest including one long strand of shiny red tinsel they must have saved from Christmas and the answer to the mystery of the missing orchid leaves.

To a wren, orchid leaves must have appeared to be the perfect shape for straps to hold the little wren house together. The site is a perfect example of ingenious planning and location. It is completely out of the weather, hidden and inaccessible to predators. The only problem is until the brood is raised we must disconnect that speaker. Then again perhaps with a little programming the little ones could adjust to Mozart if we leave off Pink Floyd full blast.

Carolina wrens are abundant in our state. The male’s song, “Tea-kettle, Tea-kettle,” is distinctive and very loud. The Carolina wren appears as a small 6-inch, rufous-brown bird with a tail that points slightly upward. A prominent distinguishing mark is a pale buff-white eyebrow stripe (just above the eye that extends from the top of the bill to the back of the head).

If birds have attitudes the Carolina wren deserves this description. They rule the garden, standing up to the larger jays and cardinals. These busy little birds can also be grouped as the clowns in the garden. Their antics bring joy to all that observe their activities. Of late they are busily foraging while adding to their new abode. As evening approaches they snuggle down, feathers fluffed, cuddled as one, in relative security in their well designed nest.

Spring is a season of love, anticipation, enthusiasm, thrill and of skillful planning. So go ahead puff up your feathers, shake out the cobwebs, shine your shoes and enjoy nesting in the bloom of Spring back to nature.

Karen can be reached at

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