In search of a family (part 1)

It all began when the Chickadees moved out after all their kids were grown. As landlords one of our prime backyard properties was now vacant.

We both hoped that they might come back and start a second family. But the Chickadees had left for good, and we never saw them again.  

However, a bachelor wren showed great interest in the property. Day after day he sat on the roof of the small house and sang quite loudly, as wrens do. As regular observers seated nearby we were delighted. 

But the days passed, then weeks slipped by, and the small but vocal wren’s search for a mate seemed a failure. Never did we see any interest in either the bachelor or our vacant rental. 

As each day came and went we became quite sad. Was this persistent little guy going to live out the summer in solitude? We hoped not but were losing confidence. 

But just as his bright song seemed to us to wane, the perfect girl came by. For him, she was the ‘One.’ The one he always knew at the bottom of his instinctive little soul would come if he just kept calling out to her.

We watched like paparazzi as she did some house cleaning before settling in.


Everything seemed a go, until the backyard bullies came along. Little had we known how rude, aggressive and territorial catbirds were.

 As servants to two outdoor cats (Kick & Boo) we had often watched these long-legged, slate-gray birds with black feather Mohawks vociferously intimidate our feline children. But we readily left the cats to fend for themselves.

But their harassment of the small lovelorn wren and his new mate seemed to us way too much. It tested our commitment to a hands-off approach to our backyard community [other than feeding them, housing them and watching them much too much.] 

What could, what should, we do to keep the bully catbirds from continually chasing our small lovers from their new house near a tailor-made maple tree perch? 

Perhaps we could throw pebbles at them as they went about their business with the poor wrens. Surely that would make the point and they would back down.

Or disperse them with a strong spray of water from a powerful hose. But that seemed too similar to the techniques used by authorities to wash away civil rights protesters.

Maybe recruit a flock of starlings to take on the catbirds. But we weren’t sure who would win that battle, and there was always the possibility we would be doubling the wrens problem and we would contribute more to chasing off the lovers than giving them some peace.

In the end we did nothing—other than observe—which proved to be the correct decision. The catbirds went on to harass and intimidate other creatures great and small, and the wrens settled in to their new home without any help from us.