Heated Birdbaths

House Wren Friends

by Denise A. Dunovant
(Montclair, NJ)

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I like to listen for their songs, how the song changes. They seem to call for me, “Wake up, get up and see me, here I am.” I miss my friends, the family of House Wrens. They are gone for the winter. I await their return in the spring. I must clean out the nest, get ready for the next serenade, romance and family. Here is our story.


I like to watch, “birding”. I read, then watch for color, size, behavior and habits, to then name and watch some more.

Vibrating wings like a wind-up toy, blurring my vision and the photograph. Confounding my ability to mimic, or communicate the sounds to other humans.

Using tools to sing along, sounding like metal screws or chalk on a blackboard. House Wren bird song is amazing. So memorable, overwhelmingly complicated. I can’t whistle that! Sometimes I wake up to the singing near my window.

I recognize their bird song. Across the season, the song changes. Then I finally hear the brood. The brood doesn’t stay long. Then it starts anew, another brood if you are lucky.

It is not just the song that is distinctive. Observing their flight tells the whole story. While the song catches my interest, I did not know what a gift I would receive with the coming of their song.

I had a ceramic bird house, gathering dust. It made sense to put it to use, cleaning and hanging it from our mid-sized tree we keep trimmed as an umbrella over a small section of the yard. It just hung there, empty.

I would check, sadly, wondering if any bird would notice. I put out bird seed daily. Many birds came to feed, but nothing happened with the bird house. Then everything changed.

That crazy House Wren birdsong came with the spring. I saw the approach, not to the bird seed, but the house. The song was sung around the bird house, diving and flapping so fast, it was hard to see at first. Then the oddest thing. I saw the House Wren pop into the ceramic bird house.

It would pop in, then out again, again and again. I then heard a clink, what was that? The clink from a stick tapped on the ceramic house. As I saw the stick drop, my heart dropped. Is a bird moving in?

I broke some sticks to the right size. I brought some colorful string and left it near. That didn’t matter. Nothing I touched was used.

But, the House Wren persisted, some sticks fit! The dropped sticks were tried again and again. Building was going on! This was so thrilling to watch.

With time, I saw another bird and came to understand, the house was seen suitable. The two worked together to build a home with sticks and other things. And they sing, announcing arrival.

I watch for days as the house is filled. I try to peek, but not too close. I want them to stay, and feel safe. Other birds are near, but not so close. Even the tall Blue Jay doesn’t approach the house.

The House Wren pair are left alone to build, popping in and out until it is complete. Flapping, fast, swooping, and diving around the yard, the tree, the house. Sitting at a distance, watching the house. Sitting below, nearby singing.

No longer busy, it seems. But one goes in and does not come out. The two keep company, and one brings something, what is that. With much work, I get a picture, and blow it up.

Look at the beak, it is a juicy bug. I understand, there is feeding going on, just to the female, I guess. I won’t approach, but I’m curious.

It is hard to catch the activity for a while. But other birds stay clear. Then, I see the two chasing a squirrel . . . What??!! They chased a squirrel away, ganging up in flight. Wow, I didn’t get that picture.

Then, I hear a new sound. Quiet, kind of tapping, inside the ceramic house. The squelching scratchy song, are the brood.

As days go by, the song gets louder and more often. There are frequent flights with bugs in beak, feeding the brood.

Then they start to emerge, teetering on the branch. And soon, they are gone. They fly away, perhaps to another house. All activity stops around our home. Is the summer over already?

Watching is done. It was all so enthralling. How wonderful to share this experience. House Wren, yes, now I understand the name.

Autumn is done and winter upon us. I must get ready for the spring. Clean the ceramic house for another family that I hope to see come spring.

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