Charlie Grindstaff, Texas Master Naturalist
A few years ago I found directions to build a cute little heart-shaped wooden birdhouse. I showed my husband and said I would really like one. Did I say my husband is sweet and very smart? On Valentine’s Day there was one hanging in the tree outside our kitchen window. I loved seeing it every day but wished a bird would use it. About six weeks later, I got my wish when I saw a Bewick’s wren investigating the birdhouse. Later I saw it struggling to get a lengthy twig through the opening. I was overjoyed.
We were going to have babies…..but wait, why was he carrying twigs into the other birdhouse on my back porch? I thought surely that couldn’t have been the same bird and then I saw him flying off in another direction with more twigs. I made it a point to watch him more carefully and it was the same bird traveling between three or four nesting sites. Then one day I saw him escorting a female to each of his prepared nesting sites, as if he was a real estate agent. He sang to her, as if expounding the merits of each nest. I could almost hear him singing, “location, location, location” and “just check out the perfect architecture of this nest” and “what about this view”.
She inspected each nest thoroughly and carefully before moving on. She did not choose his nest in my little heart-shaped birdhouse, nor the old one on the back porch, nor the cavity in the tree. She chose the nest he had built on the shelf in the garage. He was happy and I was happy for him. We were going to have babies. But instead of laying eggs she proceeded to dismantle and rebuild the nest. It didn’t seem to bother him that his hard work wasn’t good enough for her. In fact he helped her rebuild the nest. Did I say he was sweet and very smart? She did lay five eggs and we, I mean, they had the cutest little baby wrens.
Bewick’s wrens are small brown birds with white chins and eyebrows. They are about 5.5 inches in length with a long cocked-up tail. They are a non-migratory bird whose diet is about 95% insects and the remaining 5% is plant seeds. They nest in any natural or man-made cavity, including baskets, mailboxes, on rag mops leaning against the garage wall and in the pocket of a coat hung on a nail. They can have two broods of four to eight speckled eggs per year. The male sings as many as 20 different songs. They are alert and very inquisitive. Bewick’s wrens are happily at home among humans and their dwellings. And this human is happy to have them grace our world.