Thursday, June 6, 2013

Carolina Wren

Among my favorite birds, the Carolina Wren is a small, active songbird that is well adapted to human presence. They are like the chipmunks of the bird world, having a similar lovely brown coloring with racing stripes and having a resemblance in their quick movements. I am always amazed that such a loud voice comes out of such a small bird. Ounce for ounce, they probably have a louder voice than almost any other bird.

Assuming it was hung there for them, a pair of wrens started building a nest in a basket of geraniums on the porch the same day it was placed there. They wasted no time and didn't care who was sitting close by as they had a substantial nest built by day's end.

There is no difference between the look of the sexes, and both will participate in nest construction. The male will often build the base while the female will line the nest with finer materials and feathers. So my guess is that most, if not all, of these photos are the male.

Wrens are interesting because they will construct nests for more than breeding. They will sometimes make a nest simply for roosting in at night. In fact, for several years, we have had a pair that roost in a hanging basket on our porch over the winter. I took an empty hanging basket and filled it half-way with sand, then took one of those throw-away plastic containers that lunch meat comes in and put that in the basket upside down after cutting a "door" in the end. I lined the inside with moss and put leaves over the top and it wasn't long before the wrens found it. They readily accepted it and have roosted there on cold winter nights ever since.

They are funny because they will arrive well before dark. They will fuss a little bit if one of us happens to be out there, but that won't stop them from going to roost. Usually there are two, but I have seen three go in there where they can keep each other warm. The nice thing about this location is it is in a corner of the porch which gets little wind and it is at the back of the porch, so it never gets rained or snowed on. They did a little rearranging, but basically they accepted it as is.

I love the short cocked tail on a wren. It seems in tune with their attitude. If I could describe them in one word, I was use the word joyful. Everything about them seems happy.

They often keep in touch with their mate (they are monogamous) by singing, and the mate will answer with a different call. One year, the parents brought their brood of three up on the porch after they fledged. I think they were going to settle in for the night on a wreath hanging on our side door. I didn't see them sitting on the wreath and happened to open the door. Two were fast enough to fly off immediately, but the third hesitated just long enough that when it flew it was facing the interior hallway and flew into the kitchen. It took us a while to capture it and return it to the outdoors.

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