Wrens are scrappy little birds, and cute, with a loud and cheerful song. Their French name is “troglodyte familier,” as it comes down to us in English, troglodyte means “cave dweller.” These little fellows tend to find homes in the spaces under fallen logs or tree roots, piles of brush or other low down “cavities.” They do well around human habitations offering small spaces which they can make their own.
They are ubiquitous in the U.S., and numerous – but visually understated. They tend to blend into their background and are small – so unless you look, you will overlook them. In New York you most often see, when you see at all, the winter wren and the house wren, and less frequently the Carolina wren (the best singer of the bunch for my money) and the marsh wren. I usually can identified a wren at a distance by the short bobbed tail.
They live primarily on a wide variety of insects and spiders and, apparently, snail shells (for calcium), and may repeatedly hop and hover to linger over a branch or rock smorgasbord while picking out the most enticing fare. They are either fickle or have short memories because they mate for a season with a partner and then move on.
City dwellers can do little to entice wrens to share a premise but those with yards can pile some brush in a corner and hope it will entice a male looking for a place to impress a lady wren. Those with the space can also put up a nest box to attract breeders. (The Cornell Ornithology site offers plans and advice, and a wealth of knowledge – about all birds.)
Top photo: Winter Wren
All photos by Fred R. Cohen. See more of his work on his website.