Bedford Audubon Society

A Northern Westchester & Eastern Putnam Counties, New York
Chapter of the National Audubon Society

Celebrating 98 Years of Conservation 1913-2011

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Jenny Wren: The House Wren
By John Askildsen

House WrenOne of the plainest looking birds found in North America has to be the House Wren, Troglodytes aedon. It is a light brown colored, but somewhat washed–out looking little bird that is attracted to the bushy tangles of the garden. Except for off–white undersides, which cannot be described as bright even on the sunniest of days, the House Wren is decidedly a very nondescript looking bird.

But what the "Jenny" wren, as my friend Tom likes to call them, lacks in pulchritude, she most assuredly makes up for in song. As one of the earliest arriving spring songsters in our woodlands, I know spring has truly arrived when sometime between April 17 and 20, my little "Jenny" lets me know she’s back home by singing her sweet song loud and clear. Her bubbling, and warbling notes start out soft and low, and work up and up, until just like mom’s tea kettle on a red hot burner, little Jenny is boiling over in song.

When Jenny isn’t singing her song just outside the kitchen window, you might hear some of her call notes. These short "spish–spish–spish" call notes are the wren’s way of saying, "I’m a House Wren, and I’m over here in these bushes." The House Wren may be communicating with its mate or young by using call notes.

The other wonderful thing about House Wrens is that they are not too choosy about where they build their homes. Just construct one out of wood, a generic looking birdhouse with a half dollar–sized entry hole. If you are not handy with a hammer and saw, take a coffee can and lid, and cut a hole in the lid. Place the lid on the can and wire it, or your generic birdhouse, to any tree or post in a shrubby or vine–covered area. It does not matter how suburban and developed your neighborhood is, you should eventually attract a House Wren. Before you decide to invite a House Wren to your yard however, be careful to consider what, if any, pesticides you apply to your lawn and garden. Since wrens eat insects and worms, using pesticides in your yard while inviting wrens will most certainly be fatal to the birds. And, of course, living without pesticides is better for you, too. Oh, and be sure to say hello to Jenny for me.

Photo Courtesy of and Copyright © by Dick Budnik Photography

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