Wednesday, May 20, 2009

House Wrens - a lot of bird in a little package

Last fall when Kurt nailed his worn-out work boots to oak trees adjacent to our strawbale house I thought he had finally gone ‘round the bend. However, he assured me that come spring those boots would be very popular. With a wink and a smile, he wandered off to work on the Mercantile building.

You can imagine my surprise when this spring I noticed a flurry of activity around the boots. Before too long, they became the best show in town.

House wrens, tiny little birds with a big, beautiful song, had moved in. Unlike robins, which will build a nest just about anywhere, house wrens have a very complicated mating ritual. First the male picks out several possible nest sites (because house wrens are build their nests in cavities our boots were perfect candidates). Then, he builds nests in several of these spots. Then, and only then, he brings the female around. She looks at all of the nests he has built, and chooses one. The first thing she does? Redecorate! She takes all of the twigs he has so carefully placed and tosses them out the door. Then they rebuild.

Two baby house wrens in their nest inside an old work boot that has been nailed to a tree.

The photos are not very good – for that I apologize. But the boot was nailed to the east side of a great big shady tree. I think you can still get an idea of how much fun we had watching the entire process.

For more on house wrens and other songbirds, please click here

NOTE: the Cornell website says that the house wren “takes over all the birdhouses in its general vicinity, keeping all other species from using them.” This has not been our experience – we are fortunate to have many, many species of birds nesting nearby. The only birds we actively discourage are house sparrows and starlings, which were introduced to the US in the 1800’s. They are both aggressive and predatory, and wreak havoc on native songbird species.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Alline! I would so love to come and visit you here. Did you happen to get the email I sent about a possible visit? Wondering if it got snagged by your spam filter.