Wildlife Week: Gray Squirrels, Carolina Wrens, Cardinals

As promised, here’s the first in a short series of posts where I introduce you to some of the inhabitants of our yard. I figured I’d start with some of the more common ones first.

Most of the animals in this series of posts will be birds. We’re having to get creative hoping to get photos of some of the sneakier animals.

(Although we’ve had a tiny bit of luck, as you’ll see later. :-)

Eastern Gray Squirrel

I cheated and included a photo here from a previous post. The squirrels on this side of the house are surprisingly shy. They’ll come out during the day and eat the seed the birds kick out of the feeder, but whenever we come near, they scatter.

They do provide endless entertainment when they’re chasing each other through the trees. Yesterday, one startled us by falling from a limb about 40-50 feet up in the air, hitting a springy branch of a bush near the ground, vaulting about five feet to the bottom of the tree it had fallen out of, and immediately running back up. It wasn’t until we saw two or three more do the exact same thing that we realized they were doing this for fun!

Carolina Wrens

We have Carolina Wrens everywhere. These are tiny little birds with HUGE voices. They have a wide variety of songs that you can hear all the way across the yard. (From that website: One captive male Carolina Wren sang nearly 3,000 times in a single day.) Every see I watch one calling out, I’m still amazed that THAT voice is coming out of such a small bird. (Apparently the loud-voiced ones are the males in this particular species of wren.)

This time of the year, they’re building nests. Nests in our shed, our garage, our porch, one even tried building one in the truck’s toolbox. They’re not afraid of anything. You dismantle their nest, they’ll rebuild it. You stand too close to their nest when they want back in, they’ll land a few feet away and loudly let you know to move. You look into their nest when mom is in there, she’ll likely just GLARE at you.

We were lucky enough to catch the babies in our garage leaving the nest:


So where are the little darlings building a nest now?

That’s our RV’s “king pin,” the part that attaches to the hitch on the truck. Guess we aren’t going anywhere for a while…

Wren nests are pretty impressive! Totally enclosed with a round front door, I even found one once with, I kid you not, a front porch. It’s been fun to sit outside in the mornings and watch them work. The male seemed to be doing most of the work on this one this time. The female looked like she was about to EXPLODE with eggs… She’s now settled into the front of our RV all fluffed out and cuddled over her new eggs.

Oh. And they mate for life. All together now, “Awwwwwwwww.” :-)

Northern Cardinal

We also have Northern Cardinals all over the place. We usually see the males a lot more than the females. The males tend to go more out in the open looking for food, while the female hangs back in the trees and watches. Sometimes the male will fly up and feed the female, which really is a serious overload of adorable! The male also usually brings nesting material to the nest, where the female builds it, and the female will sing while on the nest to signal to the male to bring food.

The pairs will often stay together throughout winter, but unlike the Carolina Wrens, the Northern Cardinal has around a 20% divorce rate come the next spring.

Given how common they are, I had a harder time than I expected getting photos. They kept coming out blurry, like my camera didn’t know what to do with all that red. Happily, a male and female both decided to hang around our bird feeder one day, so I was able to get some shots.

The males are famous for their bright color, but I think the more subtle coloring on the females is just as beautiful.


Next up, some of the species we’ve more recently discovered.

Catetory: Wildlife
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2 Responses to Wildlife Week: Gray Squirrels, Carolina Wrens, Cardinals

  1. Sharon says:

    I love these guys! I have HORDES of squirrels. Fortunately, they can’t get into my feeders, but sometimes it’s creepy seeing so many little rodents all over the yard. The wrens are the Overseers of the yard. They sit and sing as loudly as they can to make sure everyone hears! One built a nest in a plant I have and scared the bejeezus outta me when I went to water it. I’m also hoping to get some good pix of the cardinals. They tend to play hide-n’-seek on the other side of the feeder. Looking forward to meeting your other critters! :-)

    • Cherie says:

      Kent got a nice surprise one day when he reached into the king pin to see if the nest was still there and got a face full of wren.

      We don’t have THAT many squirrels, but I’ve often commented that anything in large enough numbers is creepy. LOL I love them, though. There’s a park in Florida I’ve been to where they will come up and mug you for nuts. (The park has nuts you can buy for them, and boy do they know it.) They just stand there and GLARE at you until you feed them. If they realize you don’t have any, they all but “Hmmmmmph” and walk away. (I’m also reminded of a small statue I saw once in Orlando. A perfect, life-size squirrel with a sign reading, “Squirrels are just rats with great PR.” ;-)

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