Last night my husband opened the patio windows at 8 p.m. to clean and upturn the wild birds’ water container so that it would be ready for a re-fill in the morning. He nearly stood on something cowering on the window step. It moved slightly and he thought firstly of a mouse but on further examination it turned out to be a very small bird. Temperatures were under zero and dropping to a forecast -15C.
He brought it inside and it appeared to be a very unhappy wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) with no visible injuries. We could not tell if it was weak because of the extreme weather conditions we have been having or if it had hit the window and was concussed. As an aside the wren is called a Troglodyte mignon in France and I can attest that this one was certainly very mignon.
In any event we could not leave it to be frozen to death. We are particularly fond of our wrens that live in the undergrowth in the border that separates us from our next door neighbour. They usually stay in the back garden but we have seen them visit our feeding station on the front patio outside our dining room window but only on rare occasions.
A rescue box was prepared rapidly. The box is plastic and was lined with newspaper and some softer kitchen paper which could be used as nesting (?) material. I added a little milk bottle top of water and a fat ball. I also soaked some dry puppy food and added that later when it was re-hydrated. We left it alone and heard some movement and taking this as a good sign we put the box in a cool, dark place and hoped for the best.
I could not resist a peek later but could see nothing; it was under the kitchen paper and was either dead or asleep as it was not moving.
In the morning I jumped out of bed (a rare feat these days) and rushed to check on the wren. It was already up and fluttering. The thermometer read -6C outside but it was light and the other birds were cheeping and flying. The sun was coming up and it was going to be a sunny day so it was time to see if the wren could make it on its own.
I lifted the lid and after a few flaps he managed it over the side of the box and made straight for the undergrowth which I had suspected was home to him.
I hope he is all right. He certainly has more chance than being left to be frozen to death or be eaten by a rat.
I checked the empty box. He had not touched the puppy food which had worked well with the injured woodpecker last year but I could not be sure if he had snacked on the fat ball or not. I suppose a wren’s breakfast would not made great inroads into a fat ball.
A happy ending I think!