Five years ago, my husband bought a boat. Not just any boat – it was a power boat. A 22 foot center console made by Aquasport with an outboard engine. This was a big deal because I grew up on power boats and loved them, but Brent was a life-long sailor. So for him to finally agree to get a power boat was great news!
But true to his genetic encoding, he bought a boat that needed work. It’s a thing with the males in his family. They can’t buy something that works when you bring it home. It has to be a project – it’s more fun that way, and besides, “think of all the money we saved!” One of the basic economic principals I learned in college was the time value of money – just because you CAN do it doesn’t mean it makes financial sense TO do it. Case in point: the 1967 Land Rover project sitting in our garage, with license plates from 2005. Yup, she hasn’t seen pavement in quite awhile.
But I digress – back to the boat. So the Aquasport was on its trailer in our driveway so that some project could be completed on it. Brent came in one evening from working on it and said, “Can you believe some &*@#$% beautiful birds have made a nest on the boat?” The kids and I ran outside and sure enough, there was a nest inside the overhead storage box on the boat’s center console. Nearby was a pair of birds chirping angrily at us.
They were Carolina Wrens. According to allaboutbirds.org, “Singing one of the loudest songs per volume of bird, the Carolina Wren’s ‘tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle’ is familiar across the Southeast. It is a common bird in urban areas, and is more likely to nest in a hanging plant than in a birdhouse.” (No duh.) “A pair bond may form between a male and a female at any time of the year, and the pair will stay together for life. Members of a pair stay together on their territory year-round, and forage and move around the territory together.”
We didn’t know what to do. In addition to my husband coming from a long line of tinkerers, he’s also from a long line of animal lovers. We didn’t want to just remove the nest. But we didn’t want loads (pun intended) of bird poo on the deck of our boat either.
Brent’s solution was to gradually move the nest each day. First he hung an old wicker basket right next to the boat storage box where the nest was. With gloved hands he moved the nest from the boat to the basket. Much to our delight, the wrens didn’t abandon their nest and seemed to happily relocate to their new site.
The next day, Brent got a step ladder out of the garage and topped it with a cardboard box reinforced with packing tape and an opening on the side. He placed the ladder right on the deck of the boat, and moved the basket-with-nest into the box. The next day, he moved the ladder onto the ground next to the boat. Each evening, he would move the ladder a foot or so farther from the boat and closer to the tree line so it would be more secluded.
Eventually, the mama laid her eggs, which later hatched into four tiny babies. After about two weeks of the parents sharing in the feeding and care of their babies, they all flew the coop.
I know where the term “empty nester” comes from and the feelings associated with it. We successfully relocated their nest, monitored the nest daily, watching the babies go from tiny featherless things with bulbous eyes to mini-versions of their parents. Once they were gone, it was bittersweet. I felt like a proud parent who helped raise these little ones to leave their nest and go on to make lives of their own. In someone else’s boat.