Saturday, 6 May 2017

Backyard Crime

For the past few days I've been wondering why my Eastern Phoebes have stopped singing. A pair of them have recently constructed a lovely little moss clad nest under the roof of a tractor shed. This morning I saw something that explained the silence. Five little white eggs lay punctured and on the ground near their nest. They were vandalized.

Two of the Eastern Phoebe eggs found punctured and discarded on the ground.

The nest's eggs were almost certainly destroyed by a House Wren.

This Phoebe will have to start over with a second nest. Better luck next time!

What tyrant could have done such a mean thing? My main suspect is that cute and chatty little character, the House Wren. They are known to harass larger birds, to puncture their eggs and to kill the young and even the adults. No wonder squabbles and shrieks can be heard among the feathered community in breeding season. The neighbourhood is awash with avian crime. A defense lawyer could proclaim, "My client is pleading insanity due to instinct."

A House Wren stuffing apartment #4 with cedar twigs.

Mr. Wren is certainly cute and dapper but also aggressive and mercurial.

The Phoebes will likely re-nest and try again. And perhaps tonight a foraging skunk will be happy to find those eggs and enjoy a protein rich snack. Even misfortune can benefit someone.


  1. And as "keeper of the clan " is there any way you can make a safer nesting place? Maybe they all just have their own agenda for building it. Guess nature and the instincts are inbuilt. Hope that the dear Phoebe has inner strength to start all over again.

    1. It seems everything has an enemy, Jean. A friend has agreed to take away the Martin house which Martins never used but House Wrens find attractive. There is always drama happening somewhere. I've read that House Wrens have large, polygamous families but also have significant mortality. I think they may be each other's foe. It's sometimes hard for me to remain neutral. Nature usually has the final say anyway.

  2. So sad about those little egg; I did not know of the wren's behaviour. Murphy found a large white egg, looked like a duck's. Haven't a clue who it belonged to. Too wet these days to hang around outside. Hope it is dryer down your way.

  3. So sad for the Pheobes. It is hard to remain neutral. We witnessed the hawk flying off with a Cardinal yesterday. I felt so sad but everything has to eat.
    Hopefully we all are enjoying better weather soon!

  4. I did not know that wrens were such little bullies. I love hearing their song in my garden, but I will look at them slightly differently now. Love your blog.

  5. Oh. no. It's a dog eat dog world, isn't it?
    Mine went quiet, but I think they were cold!


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