A couple of weeks ago, we were working in the yard and I moved a trellis that was resting near a wire shelf and bumped the bottom of the shelf. A startled bird flew out of the old mail box. I had earlier spotted what I thought was an abandoned nest in it from last year, but did not give it another thought until the bird swooped past me. I surmised then that she might have eggs, and have been careful to avoid the area since.
I watched one evening as two birds alternated flying in and out of the nest with bugs in their beaks–each with its own dance routine as it hopped from spot to spot, vigilantly surveying the surroundings before heading in to the mail box nest. Monday afternoon, I was able to use my long-range zoom lens to capture a few photographs without intruding. This guy is the male Carolina Wren. I have long heard them singing their distinctive tunes, and due to the sound it makes, we have always called them the “Jimmy-Jimmy” bird.
I used the Cornell Lab Merlin app to identify the bird, and comparing the sounds, was able to give a proper name to the family, although I will still hear jimmy-jimmy-jimmy when I go outside.
By zooming in on the photo and increasing the exposure, I was barely able to make out little bird heads and their still-yellow beaks.
As I sat observing their co-parenting ritual, I also began to notice the conversations ensuing from one tree to another, and realized it was a language. Although using similar sounds and patterns, they were definitely carrying on a conversation, because the number of times a sound was repeated, and the variations in the answer, were different enough for me to catch it. I wished I had Ensign Hoshi Sata from Star Trek Enterprise, and her communicator device, to interpret for me. I know she could have figured it out (she is a linguist, aided by a tech device) because she learned Insectoid, a language of clicks. Warbled notes should be a piece of cake for her.