The House Wren
By John Askildsen
One 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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