The Mast-Head: Wrens in the Wall

I was startled by a metallic thumping from somewhere within the walls

   I had meant to close off the kitchen exhaust vent so the wrens could not get inside.
    About a month ago, while sitting in the living room at home, I was startled by a metallic thumping from somewhere within the walls. The racket, it turned out, came from a pair of what I think are Carolina wrens. They had begun stacking sticks inside an open vent louver on the exterior of the kitchen.
     Feeling somewhat bad about having to chase them out but relieved that the female had not yet begun to lay her eggs, I cleared the sticks and hung a birdhouse nearby. Next, I closed the vent and made a mental note to do something to make sure it stayed closed when the fan was off. Apparently the note should have been put down in ink.
    On Monday morning as I was getting some pancakes ready for the kids, I saw a brown shape flash by the window over the kitchen sink and heard a raspy cheeping sound from above my head. The wrens, I realized, had returned while I was not watching, and they had built a new nest.
    There is no way I am going to move the nest this time, and I’ll place a bit of tape over the vent switches to avoid disturbing the little family.
    Looking for details on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s remarkably complete Birds of North America online site, I was relieved to read that wrens take care of the business of breeding and fledging young relatively quickly. Assuming that the first nestling emerged Monday, we should be able to use the stove exhaust again by the week before Memorial Day.
     We are lucky, though, that at this time of year it is okay to open the house windows facing Gardiner’s Bay so that with a little cross-ventilation the smoke from morning pancakes can clear quickly.