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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Little Widower

By Alexander Wilson (1766–1813)

[American Ornithology. 1808–14.]

A BOX fixed up in the window of the room where I slept was taken possession of by a pair of wrens. Already the nest was built, and two eggs laid, when one day the window being open, as well as the room door, the female wren venturing too far into the room to reconnoitre, was sprung upon by grimalkin, who had planted herself there for the purpose, and before relief could be given was destroyed. Curious to see how the survivor would demean himself, I watched him carefully for several days. At first he sung with great vivacity for an hour or so, but becoming uneasy went off for half an hour; on his return he chanted again as before, went to the top of the house, stable, and weeping-willow, that she might hear him; but seeing no appearance of her, he returned once more, visited the nest, ventured cautiously into the window, gazed about with suspicious looks, his voice sinking to a low melancholy note as he stretched his little neck about in every direction. Returning to the box, he seemed for some minutes at a loss what to do, and soon after went off, as I thought, altogether, for I saw him no more that day. Towards the afternoon of the second day he again made his appearance accompanied with a new female, who seemed exceedingly timorous and shy; and who after great hesitation entered the box; at this moment the little widower or bridegroom seemed as if he would warble out his very life with ecstacy of joy. After remaining about half a minute in, they both flew off, but returned in a few minutes and instantly began to carry out the eggs, feathers, and some of the sticks, supplying the place of the two latter with materials of the same sort; and ultimately succeeded in raising a brood of seven young, all of which escaped in safety.