Rural Living

Wrath of the Wrens

Margo Oxendine, Contributing Writer

 Margo Oxendine

The songbirds are back! Isn’t it wonderful? I don’t know how long songbirds live — certainly not long enough — but I can attest that those cute little wrens are apparently quite long-lived. Or else, they pass along all their knowledge to their descendants.

Here’s how I know: For the past five years, at least, I have three little wrens who have “adopted” me, I like to think. I think that because, if I don’t, then I have to think they’ve got it in for me, for some unknown reason.

Perhaps the reason is this: Birdseed is expensive. When my budget took a hit about five years back, I decided to delete birdseed from my shopping list. What I was really doing, I realized, was feeding voracious squirrels and deer.

Every day, I’d fill the feeders with birdseed. And every morning, every seed would be gone, except for those discarded on the ground. Sometimes, even the ground was picked clean. One night I looked out the kitchen window, and saw a deer with his head cocked at an odd angle, sucking all the seed out of the feeders. And every morning, I’d glance outside and see a family of squirrels hanging upside down, vacuuming seed out of the feeders.

The morning I looked outside and saw a fat little chipmunk actually sitting inside the feeder, with a happy smile on his tiny face, was the morning I decided, the heck with birdseed.

I’m probably not supposed to do this — there may be a law against it for all I know — but if I have strawberry hulls, I toss them outside near the old bird feeder, rather than throw them in the trash. The same goes with those shreds of cereal that always end up at the bottom of the bag. Hey, I figure, it’s grain; isn’t that something birds like?

No matter what I toss outside after fixing dinner  — bad blueberries, strawberry hulls, stale biscuits crumbled into bits — it is gone the next morning. Apparently, my backyard is some sort of roadside feeding station for creatures large and small. I guess that’s my fault.

For this reason, Brownie does not have a doggie door. I can only imagine the ensuing melee, should that raccoon family I know is out there discover a welcoming entry into the kitchen. I have no idea how I’d shoo them out if they did invade. I don’t want to become the laughingstock of the sheriff’s office, should I have to call for help late some evening.

Actually, one night years ago, I heard very disturbing sounds right outside my bedroom window. It woke me up. It was an odd, fear-inducing sound I’d never heard before. That night, I did call the sheriff’s office. Turns out, a doe was giving birth under the tree outside my bedroom window.

I can only hope this incident occurred long enough ago that the deputy is retired and becoming quite forgetful by now. Who knows? It might be part of deputy lore. Ergo, I do not want to create another anecdote by inviting marauding raccoons inside the house.

Every now and then, I pass a dead raccoon on the highway near my driveway. I always feel a little sad, and wonder, “Is that one of my raccoons?”

Anyway, back to the wrens. I can’t imagine how, but they have discovered a way to get onto my screened porch. Then, they dart and fly madly about, hitting all the screens in a fervent effort to get back outside.

I go out and prop open the porch door. And then I wait. When I don’t notice them

flitting around anymore, I close the door again. That happened yesterday.

This morning, I heard the loud chirping of songbirds. “My, they’re close,” I thought.

And when I looked out on the screened porch, there they were: Not just the one wren who repeatedly comes inside and then yearns to get out; no. This time, he’d brought a buddy along.

There’s another little wren — may well be the same one — who spends the night right outside my back door. If I so much as venture to the garbage can, he screeches loudly and dive-bombs me. I am now wary of even leaving the house by that door.

Ah, if I could only outsmart a songbird. But apparently, I cannot even be called “bird-brained.” Sigh.

To order Margo Oxendine’s A Party of One, email [email protected], or call 540-468-2147 Monday-Thursday from 9-5.


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