Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Cat bent on getting to Carolina wrens' nest, but is foiled

Late at night he hides in the bushes outside my front door. I've caught him staring intently from behind my car, seemingly angry and ready to have it out with me. So far I'm winning, my main defense a roll of aluminum foil.

The "enemy" is my neighbor's cat who's determined to raid a Carolina wren's nest in a wall planter on my front porch. I'm equally determined to stop him.

He succeeded last year. Sadly, I gathered up a pitiful baby bird, wrapped its cold little body in soft flannel and buried it. I understand predators and the life cycle and I even like cats. But laying to rest that little baby bird, I felt really angry with that cat. This year, things would be different.

Carolina wrens are a common small brown bird with a distinct white line above each eye. They usually nest in protected spots such as abandoned containers or planter boxes off the ground, secure from rain.

I've watched parents construct a nest, snug, compact and just right for a family. Usually there are four eggs and it takes only a few weeks from nesting to fledging. The parents work feverishly and together coax and encourage until the last little fellow tries new wings and awkwardly, at first, takes to the trees. From first twig to last flutter it's a heartwarming observation.

The wrens returned to the porch wall planter a few weeks back. Opening the door during nest construction, we were bombarded with chatter as if they just wanted us out of the way. Things settled down and only when I perched on a stool to peek did I know the mama was patiently waiting the days until her babies hatched.

One night a few weeks ago, there was a commotion. Plants were flung out of the box and potting soil scattered but the nest with babies was secure. It was close to midnight, and in the bushes lurked the cat. He'd jumped for the box but fell short, lost footing or a frantic mother bird flapping at him made him miss. The next move was mine, or I should say "ours," since my husband paced back and forth, ready to take on the intruder hand to paw.

Late night is not my best problem solving time but I began to rummage through things hoping for something to secure the nest from the cat that wouldn't further upset the mother bird.

Aha! A thought struck. When my daughter was pregnant she was determined to cat-proof things like the cradle, infant seat and stroller. She'd heard that aluminum foil might be a deterrent, so she covered things with foil and it worked like a charm. Cat steered clear; baby things weren't messed with.

Armed with foil — a large roll of heavy duty, extra wide — I cut strips and duct-taped them gently around the planter. Then Jay and I laid down foil flooring in the area the cat would use as his launch to the planter box.

Days passed without incident. Baby birds have feathers, their little yellow beaks are prominent and mama bird steadily zooms in with bugs and worms.

Meanwhile, that cat sits in the bushes, hides underneath shrubs and ventures to the edge of the porch glaring at us. To our knowledge he hasn't set foot on the foil and otherwise isn't close enough for jumping to the nest.

I've searched the Internet for "cats and foil" and found interesting ideas but no scientific reason why many cats dislike foil, but for now it seems to be saving the baby birds. Soon our trees will be a little fuller with young wrens.

Then we'll see about getting that foil off the front porch.

Cat bent on getting to Carolina wrens' nest, but is foiled 06/01/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 9:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Deputies: Wimauma teacher's aide sexually molested teen, 13


    A Wimauma teacher's aide faces charges lewd or lascivious molestation after Hillborough County deputies say he inappropriatly touched a 13-year-old girl.

    Sonny Juarez, 29, a teacher's aide in Wimauma, faces charges lewd or lascivious molestation after Hillborough County deputies say he inappropriatly touched a 13-year-old girl on several occasions while working at the RCMA Wimauma Academy, 18236 U.S. 301 S, between November 2016 and March 2017. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]

  2. Tampa Bay deputies head to UF to assist with Richard Spencer's speech

    Public Safety

    Local deputies are heading up to Alachua County in preparation of white nationalist Richard Spencer's speech in Gainesville on Thursday.

    Law enforcement is stepped up in Gainesville on Oct. 18, 2017, ahead of Richard Spencer's appearance. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
  3. Gymnast McKayla Maroney alleges sexual abuse by team doctor


    Two-time Olympic medalist McKayla Maroney says she was molested for years by a former USA Gymnastics team doctor, abuse she said started in her early teens and continued for the rest of her competitive career.

    U.S. gymnast McKayla Maroney poses after completing her routine on the vault during the Artistic Gymnastic women's qualifications at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Maroney posted a statement on Twitter Oct. 18, 2017, in which she said she was molested for years by former Team USA doctor Larry Nassar. [Associated Press]
  4. Top 5 at Noon: Facts on Richard Spencer's Florida visit; Column: Jameis, don't be a hero; Locale Market changes again


    Here are the latest headlines and updates on

    White nationalist Richard Spencer (C) and his supporters clash with Virginia State Police in Emancipation Park after the "Unite the Right" rally was declared an unlawful gathering August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Spencer is set to speak at the University of Florida. [Getty]
  5. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: Uncertainty surrounds Jameis Winston's health


    Greg Auman talks about the Bucs' quarterback situation, with uncertainty around Jameis Winston's health, in his latest Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Jameis Winston takes the field for warmups before the Bucs' game against the Cardinals Sunday in Glandale, Ariz. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]