Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Wrens Wrule

A friend who is a cross-word puzzle freak says that a recurring clue for a "songbird" is always answered as "wren." Being unfamiliar with birds, she didn't know why this was such an obvious answer. One of the basic birding rules says "The loudness of the birdsong is inversely proportional to the size of the bird," and I believe the rule describes all wrens. This small brown bird with the short upturned tail, wins the prize for Loudest Singer around. Although diminutive in size, wrens are not shy about defending themselves. This little Carolina Wren sat and scolded me for about 15 minutes while I took pictures of him. A pair nested under the eaves of our garage, flying in and out through an open space we left in the window. I saw the parent once, bringing a twig, and never saw him again, or the babies, except when someone closed all the windows and doors. The parent flew back and forth frantically until I opened the back window for him again. Last fall, we bought a large gourd with a hole drilled in it to use as a bird house, and in the spring we hung it on the back porch light where a robin nested last summer. I was afraid that the hole was too big and the house would be used by sparrows or some other larger bird. To my delight, a pair of House Wrens moved in. Cavity nesters have a lot of common sense. The babies have no risk of falling out of the nest while they are still small. The nest is always sheltered from the wind and rain. My only question is how will the babies stretch and exercise their wings before fledging? There is no room in the gourd for that! Mama Wren is a feisty little thing. Her mate sits in the tree singing his heart out to defend his territory and delight the Dennis family. Mama Wren, however, will come up with a bug in her bill, and chase him all over the yard. I can almost hear her saying, "Get off that branch, you good for nothing songbird, and go catch some bugs to feed the children!" Since then, I notice that both parents are very active in bringing bugs to the gourd. At first the babies were quiet, but now we hear them chirping whenever one of the parents arrive. I hope we are home when they start to fledge. Wouldn't want to miss that. In Washington on our recent vacation, we heard many Marsh Wrens and Winter Wrens. The Marsh Wren is famous for hiding in a tree or a reed, right next to you, singing at the top of his voice, and remaining invisible the entire time. It was a challenge to get the camera to focus on a small brown bird in the middle of all the brown reeds in the marsh. I'll have to look for a camera accessory that focuses on the sound of the bird. I could make lots of money with it among birders!

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