Monday, July 23, 2012

The House Wren

Now is the time to venture out in the cool of the morning to scout the garden looking for the darling House Wren. She has probably made a nest in some odd place so finding it is an interesting scavenger hunt of sorts and a fun game. They famously choose unusual sites for their nests, including door wreaths, lamp posts, garage shelving, and even old shoes that have been left outside The Wrens come here in the spring with the male signaling their arrival with an almost incessant stream of burbles, warbles, buzzes and rattling churrs. Native Americans called this bird o-du-na-mis-sug-ud-da-we-shi, meaning ‘making a big noise for its size’. They are considered a songbird even though their wonderful song is heard only during the nesting season and rarely afterwards. Since the diet of the House Wren consists almost entirely of insects, spiders, snails, flies, ticks, plant lice, gypsy moth larvae, ants, and grasshoppers they are a valuable asset to the gardener for natural control of pests. As indicated by their common name, they are intensely interested in humans and often nest where they receive our attention. They will make a cup sized nest of various materials including string and pieces of plastic and sit on three to seven creamy white eggs. To encourage this valuable little bird to nest in the garden some people find boxes with a hole small enough to prevent competitive nesters is an option... and knowing their location makes spying on the babies easier than looking for the nest through a hunt. Small and overly confident, the brown House Wren is extremely territorial and will make efforts to destroy the nest of competitive birds. It is said they will occasionally destroy the eggs of other birds by breaking the egg shell. They have also been known to vandalize the cavity of other bird nests by placing sharp sticks in them therefore rendering them unusable. Both parents will raise their young and the family will leave here for winter quarters in Mexico by early October. When their sociable behavior is added to their abilities to control pests, it is no wonder this dear little bird is among the all time American favorites. The photo was taken in our shop, where a wren had nested behind some steel. The babies are happy visit with the welders!