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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Inviting Texas Wrens into your yard is simple

Carolina Wren

Bewick's Wren
    Wrens are easy birds to attract…they may already be in your yard, in fact, because they’re often attracted by the way we live.

          Our native Wrens are the Carolina Wren and the Bewick’s Wren. Bewick's are a little duskier than the sand-colored Carolina species. Both are slightly huskier than other Wrens, and probably won’t be able to get into a mass-produced, “one-size-fits-all” wrenhouse which are usually built for House Wrens (rarely seen in Texas). 

          Wrens have shared their living space with humans for ages.  They’ve learned to use our house exteriors, garages, etc. as homes, although they prefer old woodpecker holes, birdhouses, or dark, natural cavities. If nothing else is available, they’ll construct their own home – a globular cave of sticks, grasses and leaves with a small entry hole. They’ll make their nests in unusual places. (Last year, a Wren built a nest in a hanging basket. Until the nestlings fledged, we watered the basket with ice cubes...they melted slowly enough not to soak the nest.)

          It’s not just human housing that attracts them; it’s also the countless tiny insects found in the exterior nooks and crannies of all our houses. These insects are their food supply – Wrens rarely eat seed. The slender bill is slightly curved, enabling them to get at food that most other birds can’t reach.

          The first key to attracting Wrens is having plenty of nest-building material around.  Small twigs, long grasses; even fur from a family pet.

          The second key is a brushpile; it's just a random mound of branches and logs with lots of “cubby holes” on the inside. In bad weather, it’s a comparatively warm, protected and sheltered place to roost or build a nest. A brushpile also provides safety from animals that would like to have a Wren for dinner.

        Water is essential year ‘round too. A shallow birdbath (2” at most) is ideal. Wrens like to poke around in “messy” vegetation near water – that’s where the insects and tiny snails are.


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