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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Wrens need a good home. Your yard?

Carolina Wren
Bewick's Wren
Whether you see them or not, wrens live in your neighborhood. And now is a good time to attract them to live closer by - now that the rigors of a Texas summer are ebbing.

Wrens are small birds, with a disproportionately loud voice. It's a pleasant sound, so it's a good thing they're easy to attract. In fact wrens NEED human contact and conform well to the way we live. In north Texas, our native wrens are the Carolina Wren and the Bewick's Wren (pronounced similar to the car). The Carolina is browner than the Bewick's, and both are slightly "huskier" than other wrens. Consequently, our wrens probably won't be able to get into a mass-produced, one-size-fits-all wren house, which is sized for a House Wren (which is sometimes here, but isn't very common).

A key to attracting wrens in Texas is a brushpile; a random pile of branches 4-5 feet high, with lots of spaces and voids on the inside. In bad weather it's a comparatively warm place to roost - which attracts all birds. A brushpile also provides safety from animals that would like a wren for dinner.

 The year-'round availability of water is also essential to attracting wrens; not just during the heat of the summer. Even in winter, wrens need to bathe, and will poke around in vegetation near birdbaths in search of overwintering bugs.

You can try to attract owls as twilight fades. Pause in a meadow or a clearing in a wooded area (or your own yard, if it's wooded enough) and squeak like a field mouse. Draw breath in through almost-closed lips so you squeak (the precision of the sound isn't very crucial!). Owls are attracted to the mouse-like sound, but will veer away at the last second.  (Here in north Texas, our common owls are Great-horned, Barn, Eastern Screech and Barred)

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