Sunday, 1 December 2013

Dear Sweet Wren

“For the poor wren,
The most diminutive of birds, will fight,
Her young ones in her nest, against the owl.”
William Shakespeare, Macbeth

A wren, or a "scricciolo", in Italian, appears to be living in a cupboard just outside our kitchen window. I have spotted it, while at the kitchen sink, coming in and out of a slit at the top. This cupboard is dry and filled with newspaper and would be a good place to live, if this coming winter is going to be extremely cold. I would be delighted to support this one, though feeding it would be difficult, as wrens only eat insects.  

The current home of our wren

Wrens are inventive, eccentric and even daring in their nesting choices. They like mailboxes, flowerpots, and even the pockets of coats hanging on the clothes lines!  House wrens have been known to nest in woodpecker holes, empty cow skulls, watering cans, old hats, tin cans, teapots, flower pots, old boots, shoes, the nozzle of a pump, weather vanes, holes in a wall and even in the axle of car that was driven every day. When competing for a nest site, a wren may throw out of the nest of another bird, its eggs and young. If the other bird is more powerful, the wren may harass it, by filling the hole with its own nesting material.

Winter wren, photo from Wikipedia

The wren is tiny. It is almost completely round, with a short, very cocked tail. Its wing span is just 7 inches across. It almost invisibly brown, so it is hard to track, with the naked eye.  It forages, rather like a mouse in the undergrowth. It makes a loud “tit, tit, tit” sound and also a not unmusical song which it uses all year. For its gorgeous song, see this video.

Its character, according to William Shakespeare, is valiant, and bold. It is the "Napoleon" of birds.  It also reminds one of Reepicheep, the brave mouse in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C S Lewis. A partial migrant, it is common across Western Europe. In summer, the wren even ventures into the Arctic Circle. House wren eggs take two weeks to hatch. The young stay in the nest for another two weeks. With such long migrations routes, it is surprising that the wren can live up to 9 years. 

Eggs of the wren

House wrens lay 5-8 white eggs at a time, thickly speckled with brown, in a cup, lined with feathers, within a mass of sticks and grass.  House wrens eat only insects and spiders, millipedes, snails, and other tiny invertebrates.  We have plenty of snails in our garden and our small guest is most welcome to them all.   I am glad that I have not put down any pesticides to kill our slugs and snails.

Video of the wren singing

No comments:

Post a Comment