- Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.
It is a bright, hot summer day that the second broods of wrens fledging on my patio must brave. Fifteen-year-old Margaret Cat caught and ate an early one that dropped out of its nest box a few days ago. To my knowledge that is her first meal of wild game, and now I know that if she ever got lost in the wild she would have some sort of chance of surviving. Right now she is crouched under large hosta leaves next to the patio, ready with just the glowing green eyes of her face showing, neglecting the full bowl of kitty kibbles inside. I kept her in yesterday which caused her to sulk, so today I let her out into nature. Margaret Cat was so excited about the wren fledging that she even asked to go out under the eaves in a light rain we had last night. I sat with her to make sure a night-prowling fox did not kill her.
Shortly after the first breeding season this year, two pairs of determined wrens took possession of my patio. Something must have happened to their first nests, but the distressed racket with which these four birds setup nests in my two little wren houses under the eaves was audible within my own home, shrill and relentless from dawn past dusk, and sometimes they woke in the night to shriek out. Their hatchlings seemed shriller than usual as well, screeching “Me, me, me” to every mouthful of bugs that the parents brought to the nest. I still hear high into ranges usually heard only by dogs according to an audiologist who tested me long ago. Now that’s a silly skill, I would rather have had the knack for collecting coin.
One recent evening I watched the parent wrens methodically grab up beakfulls of bugs and fly directly to their nest boxes of offspring, back and forth, and I have the mosquito bites to show for it, which is risky as in downstate Illinois mosquitoes are carriers of West Nile virus, and other strains of encephalitis. Culex mosquitoes are the usual biters here. They have medium-sized, brown bodies with white tiger markings on the abdomen, delicate legs, and pretty gossamer wings. It is a pity to crush them, but one must. However, I did not see them, and I did not feel them—yet another vulnerability of aging are my cataracts and diminishment of body sensation; and yet I have so much pain, which is counter-intuitive.
This is my first Father’s Day without my father, mother passed in 2013. I am sadly missing the parties I used to make for Father and Mother. I am glad I made the effort, now I have the memories.
1 "Both males and females sing. Males often sing 9-11 times per minute during breeding season. Songs are a long, jumbled bubbling introduced by abrupt churrs and scolds and made up of 12-16 recognizable syllables. Females sing mainly in answer to their mates shortly after pairing up; their songs can include high-pitched squeals unlike any sounds males make... House Wrens make a variety of harsh sounds: churrs, chatters, rattles, and scolds, often in response to large animals that might be predators. For this reason, they can often be coaxed into view with squeaks or pishing sounds." Source: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/House_Wren/sounds
2 "Dogs can hear higher pitched sounds and can detect a frequency range of 67-45,000 Hz, compared to a human range of 64-23,000 Hz.” Source: https://www.google.com/search?q=diff+hearing+dog+human&oq=diff+hearing+dog+human&aqs=chrome..69i57.3454j0j9&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
Caption: Releasing The Cat's Catch—watercolor by Annmarie Throckmorton, 2008.
Caption: Releasing The Cat's Catch—photograph by Annmarie Throckmorton, 2008.