Little Big Mouth – the House Wren


The house wren is a tiny (0.4 oz) bird with a big personality. It nests in cavities around houses and can be in competition with other hole-nesting species. In annual surveys of two dozen nest boxes I have found that bluebirds and tree swallows are mainly dominant over house wrens in open areas. House wrens will nest in the boxes after the others have left. They will sometimes fill nest boxes will sticks in an apparent attempt to block nesting by other birds. They do have an incredibly loud song and if you have house wrens nesting on your porch as we do, they will get your attention! But we appreciate them for their tenacity and survival instincts and enjoy their daily chatter and the feeding of the young. They are a song bird with one of the widest breeding distributions, from Canada to southern S. America so they must be doing something right.

We finally have peace on our front porch since the house wrens fledged their latest nest just outside our bedroom window. The parents sang loudly declaring their ownership of the porch and scolded us if we got too close to the nest. There were five beautiful eggs in a second nest I examined and we often observed the adults bringing insects to the young. So now we miss them!

So learn how to distinguish the two wrens that often nest around houses, the Carolina and house wrens and you can enjoy watching their amusing antics. I try to avoid judging animal behavior by our own human standards and feel that we must learn to appreciate the role of aggressive birds such as house wrens and mockingbirds within the matrix of natural processes.

Bill Dunson, Englewood, FL & Galax, VA


Bill Dunson

About Bill Dunson

Bill Dunson, born in rural Georgia, skipped 12th grade and went directly to Yale. Bill subsequent-ly received a PhD in Zoology from the University of Michigan, studying softshell turtles. Bill is Professor Emeritus of Pennsylvania State University thanks to a career spent entirely at that institution, teaching and doing research on the physio-logical ecology and ecotoxiciology of reptiles, amphibians and fish. Always curious about nature, Bill has dedicated his life to learning and sharing his knowledge with others. He has served on many advisory boards here in Southwest Florida to preserve the water that gives life to our region.

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