Opinion: Things I didn’t know about wrens


There’s a lot I didn’t know about wrens. For starters, there are at least 80 species, including the house wren, Carolina wren, Eurasian wren, winter wren, Bewick’s wren, cactus wren, marsh wren, sedge wren and rock wren.

I think the ones that have taken up housekeeping at our home are Carolina wrens. They are tiny birds compared to the robins, finches and sparrows that gather noisily at our front yard feeders. Even so, they are the second largest of all wrens, trailing the cactus wren by several centimeters, according to ornithologists who are paid to know these things.

All wrens are classified as passerine birds. The dictionary let me wade through words like passeriformes and oscines before telling me it simply means songbird.

Wrens first showed up at our house several years ago when I forgot to take down a hanging basket on the front porch. When I tried to remove it, I got a cussing by the man of the house that would make a sailor blush. Male wrens are the primary singers, but they also have a vocabulary for swearing that would scare away a hungry mountain lion.

Fast forward to this year. Another forgotten basket. This one outside the back door. When I reached for it a couple days before Easter, a highly indignant male wren flew ranting and raving to a nearby post where he let me know in no uncertain terms just what level of bottom feeder I really was, and how the world would be a much better place if all humans would pack up, move out, go to and stay put.

Early this spring I hung a birdhouse from the Japanese maple in the front of the house in hopes a family of bluebirds or finches might find it to their liking. There were a lot of lookers, but no takers. Until this week when a couple of wrens signed the lease and moved in.

Meanwhile, in the back yard, I looked out the door the other day in time to see three fledglings launch their maiden flight. Two of them flew to the ground while the third lit upside down on the screen door to the back porch where he spent a few minutes trying to figure out which way was up and how to get there.

At last, I thought, I could get rid of the hanging basket. That was yesterday. This morning the female was back in the nest and the male was noisily standing guard.

Another thing I didn’t know about wrens: They raise multiple broods each year.