Hart Beat by Hart Rufe

First published June 3, 2012 ... Contact Hart at hartrufe@gmail.com

Carolina Wren chicks

Four Carolina Wren chicks take their first trips out of the nest.

House Wren?

House WenWhich bird is the true “House” Wren? The one that lives in a bird house on the edge of the woods, or the one that lives in your house?

The House Wren (right), a winter resident of Florida, typically nests in a bird box, building a nest (right) of small sticks and twigs, often usurping a chickadee, titmouse or bluebird nest and building its nest right over top of the prior owners nest after having tossed the unhatched eggs out of the box. Reminds one of the uninvited squatter who moves into your home while you are away, and completely takes over the entire house. In the accompanying photo of one of our bird boxes at the end of the year, note the Tufted Titmouse moss nest at the bottom, followed by a grass nest started by a Bluebird, but usurped by a House Wren nestHouse Wren stick and twig nest on top. The Titmouse family was probably successful, but the Bluebirds, I’m sure were overwhelmed by the tiny little House Wrens.

Now the Carolina Wren (below right), on the other hand, is like the pleasant house guest who comes to visit and makes no muss of fuss, and you don’t even know they are there. Quiet around the house, they come and go very stealthily and are not at all bothered by our human activity.

For years we have had a nesting pair in a hanging basket on out front porch. This year they commandeered the fake flower display right next to our front door. From a distance, and even close up, the nest is not at all visible. Only when you examine the display from just the right angle are you able to see the mother on the nest. And she is so confiding in you that she does not fly even when your eyeballs are mere inches from her face. A few days later there are five hungry mouths begging for food. Actually, the open mouth appears to be about five times the size of the rest of the baby.

Carolina Wren nestWhen the birds are ready to leave the nest the parent will stay on the ground, or in this case, our front brick porch, and entice the hungry babies to flutter down to be fed. All five made it down safely, but only four posed for their initial portrait. By the end of the day all our guests had quietly left the house and dispersed into the surrounding area, not to be seen or heard from again, until their next nesting in a few weeks. And we didn’t even have any clean-up to do.

Carolina WrenI don’t know why the two wren Carolina Wren nestspecies were named “House” and “Carolina,” but to me it seems the Carolina Wren is a more desirable house guest than the House Wren. Perhaps they should be renamed House Wren and “Home Wren” for the Carolina. Certainly the Carolina Wren is a more welcome guest in our home than the deceptively mean little home-wrecking House Wren.

Carolina Wrens range year-round from the Adirondacks to Florida and west to just beyond the Mississippi River, so keep an eye out for them on your porch. You might have guests that you don’t even know are there.

Carolina Wren chickCarolina Wren chicks

Carolina Wren chicks in the nest

(Click photos for larger versions)