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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Beautiful Things Come In Small Packages(The House Wren)

She's small but mighty! And yes, her color is  a drab brown,  the wren is not as sprightly colored as some other birds, but oh, this little powerhouse has captured not only my heart but scads of time just listening to, and watching her.
    I first encountered this tiny super-bird many years ago. My daughter and I were sitting in the backyard by the picnic table. She stopped our conversation and asked me, nodding her head in the direction of a bluebird house and said," What kind of bird is that  Mom? She  seems so smart?" At the time I had no idea what specie of bird this was,but she was busy  working at fitting a long twig into the bird house. She tried it length wise, finding this did not work, then  she turned it sideways and fed it through the tiny hole without another hitch. " And people tend to think that they are the only ones with intelligence." I replied. 
       This little brown bird with a perky uplifted tail caught my attention and I spent the rest of the summer trying to determine the species and to learn more about her. I observed her(him really) finish the nest and  then sound the news that she was looking for a mate. Using a  high pitched incessant chirping I noticed  many interested parties showing. The prospective mates   perched on the branches or jumped from branch to branch of the tree that held the birdhouse.
     Interestingly, the birdhouse was situated  next to where I parked my car in the driveway. I'd pull in 
and park about a foot away from the house. The wren would pop out of the hole, give a few scolding chirps, then flip her trail up at me, and re-enter the nest in the birdhouse.. Once she got used to our set up, she would pop out see that it was me and then she'd go about her business.

       It wasn't till the middle of the summer that I learned she was a wren. If you don't mind , I like to refer to the wren as a she, even though I read years later , that the male finds the nest and  sets it up.  He then courts the female wrens in the area until the right lady looks the nest over and approves and moves in. Take a breath. Then when he mates with her, he fly's off to another nest and mates with another female. So this hunk of male bird can have many off-spring. But, he also seems to find the energy and time to help feed his off spring and protect the nest. 
    I watched in mid to late summer, the baby birds perch at the hole in the birdhouse, while mother, father, and seemingly uncles and aunts in the area would perch on the branches outside of the birdhouse and chirp encouragingly to the fledglings. Sometimes if they were ready they'd fly to a nearby branch,when they were not yet ready, they'd shiver at the doorway and turn back to the safety of the nest.
   I did not realize that wrens were very possessive of their original  home sites until one day late in April and after a  chickadee had set up housekeeping, the wren returned and returned with a vengeance! The wren popped into the birdhouse, then came out to the opening with eggshell pieces in her beak. She basically spit it out onto the ground,went back in and repeated the process until the house was empty of the chickadee's eggs. She then flew off gathering dry grass and refurbished the nest to her/his liking. In the meantime I watched as the chickadee returned, popped into the hole then came out and sat in the opening with what I perceived to be a sad bewildered look on her face. Soon the tenacious wren returned and scolded the chickadee away;I was amazed and a bit sad for the chickadee.
   I moved to my son's home in "2006". I sorely missed the wren. My daughter-in-law bought a wren house and  hung it in a tree by the side of the driveway where I now park my car. Last spring '2012' a wren visited the house but evidently found it not suitable and set up nesting  somewhere else.
" What do you think is wrong with the house?"asked my daughter-in-law.   I had given this a lot of thought. " I think if you turn the house facing our front porch and driveway, next spring we'll have a 'wrenter'. 
     Spring of 2013 rolled around, and I listened with anticipation: I heard nothing. No sound of the vibrant incessant chirping of a wren. Then one day my daughter-in-law ran into the house and with an excited voice announced, "She's back!" 

I went outside , and yup, there she was gathering twigs and chirping as she went about her/his work--- So turning the birdhouse around to face our porch was the right thing to do. 
   Every late afternoon  this summer we went outside, sat on the porch swing watching her coming and going gathering insects. I loved listening to her bubbling  chirping. Think I'm crazy if you must, but I would call to her when I sat on the porch, and soon she'd fly out of her house right to a bush in front of the porch,she'd cock her head give me a look then fly off to find more insects for the babies.
    Talk about a tenacious bird. One day while standing by the kitchen window watching a chipmunk make his way up a bird-feeder  to perch himself near and partake of a suet block, she flew from her house to dive bomb him till he scampered down and skittered away. 

   About the third week in August she had raised her second clutch of babies. I went outside to call to her in the late afternoon, but heard and saw nothing. I walked up close to the birdhouse and noticed a twig placed crossways in the open hole of the birdhouse. She had left for the winter and blocked the entrance with a twig: Apparently she plans on returning come next spring.And I will sigh, welcome back the House Wren.
Offered for your enjoyment by Mysticsilks


  1. Beautifully written, I was watching everything that was going on in my mind. You created a wonderful story & brought back many happy memories. xoxo

  2. Yes, those days did hold many happy memories!