I must be doing something wrong. I’ve built bird houses in any form you can imagine but I can’t attract a wren.
All I’ve read about the tiny birds is that they like a home with a hole of no more than one inch. Beyond that that aren’t picky.
On my first trip to meet the Kansas Woman’s family in the late 1970’s I was struck by the music of singing birds on the small front porch.
The house, situated on a rise, was two rectangles joined at a corner facing east. Washington was visible six miles to the east.
The wrens didn’t seem mind the presence of people and their singing was sweet.
Wrens are common in Kansas. One only has to hang something suitable and it will be soon occupied.
Kansas wrens aren’t picky. They’ll nest whether you want them there or not including on a vehicle if left in place long enough, as one guy told me.
They’re tiny birds. Just before breaking into song the bird stretches its neck, lifts its beak, raises its tail and quivers. It seems to take all of the the tiny body to produce a song.
Wrens have an unusual way of shopping for a house. The male builds partial nests, maybe several of them, and leads the female around to look them over. After choosing one she completes it and that becomes home.
Wrens sing to attract a mate, establish territory and maybe to attract a second mate. The males are prone to wander and start the cycle with another female before his first family is hatched.
The KW says she has heard southern wrens at the mountain cabin but I’ve yet to hear one and there are gracious plenty little birdhouses hanging on the porch posts, danging from trees, sitting on tall stumps.
When I am disheartened I think of writer Joel Chandler Harris who had a mini-farm south of Atlanta, from which he commuted to work via trolley. Today it is in town.
Harris is more widely known as the collector and publisher of the famed “Uncle Remus Tales” but was also associate editor of the Atlanta Constitution.
One day he noticed a wren building its nest in his mailbox. He erected another box for mail and gave his home a name it bears to this day; “The Wren’s Nest.” It is a living museum to Harris.
The only birds calls I can reliably report hearing are cardinals, crows, doves and someone’s rooster down the road.
My mother baked cornbread and scattered it to attract birds. It was cheap food and it attracted birds.
Her bird book contained notes on birds seen, the date, whether they were nesting, when they left. I refer to it but didn’t find a note on wrens.
I haven’t given up. There is still time to attract a wren, since they seem to be active all summer, but I just can’t seem to build the right house.
Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.