Helen Manson Andrews
Editors note: From time to time we like to add
some of Helen Andrew’s articles she wrote for the Taconic
hope you will enjoy this article..
I heard the little house wren chattering around the yard and
I was glad to have them back. They can be found in parks,
open woods and around farmland as well as your yard. The
male arrives first and establishes a territory and often builds
dummy nests in
available nest sites. When the female arrives, they may or
may not accept the chosen site and incomplete nest. If she
does, she will
finish it by making a nest cup of grass, plant fibers, feathers
or hair to the back of the twigs that have been placed in the nest
box, natural cavity, fence post or old woodpecker hole. Now
she will lay her eggs, five to eight, and incubate them along. The
pair is not permanently mated and may form a new pair bonds between
The house wren is just one of the wren family that
we have here. And the most common and the best known. The
Carolina wren is larger and not seen in most yards.
It can be found in brushy woods, thickets, farmland and garden areas. They,
nest in cavities, often in out buildings, old stone walls and under bridges.
Both the male and the female build the bulky nest of leaves, twigs, rootlets
and debris and often it is domed over. The female incubates the eggs, four
eight of them, and the male feeds his mate as she sits on the nest.
The winter wren is the smallest and will nest in
damp woods, along streams and under upturned roots. Like
the house wren, the male winter wren builds dummy
nest. The marsh wren is the fourth member of this family that nests in
the county. They nest in freshwater or brackish marshes and lash their
reeds and rushes. Like the other wrens, the male builds a nest but the
female builds the nest for her eggs and places a short sill at the entrance that
male’s nest lacks.
All the wrens have a cascade of bubbly song but
each one is quite different. The winter wren is the most
beautiful singer of all the longest song, a real
joy to listen to. They all eat insects and will take a large quantity to feed
the growing young.
Over Dutchess, May
Originally published in the Taconic