A Spring Song-April 2000

A Spring Song

Television can really drive me crazy. I would much rather be in the woods! Today, when I was flipping channels just to have some noise in the house, I stopped to listen to “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.” King Friday was singing to a tiny bird on a stick. He sang, “Troglodyte’s Aedon.” What a mouthful for grownups to spit out, but Fred Rogers made this complicated Latin name into a simple child’s song. Aedon was the Queen of Thebes, who was changed into a nightingale by Zeus. This scientific name is appropriate for the bird that creeps into tiny dark cavities like a troglodyte and sings a rich song bigger than it is.

Who is this familiar backyard friend which Fred Rogers sings about? It is the House Wren. These birds are masters of diplomacy, getting along with people everywhere. They are less popular with other birds. If a Wren notices any other bird nesting in its territory, it will puncture holes in those eggs.

In spring, the male Wren returns first, anytime from mid-April though May. He builds a nest in a cavity, lining it with small sticks and grasses. The cavities that Wrens choose are very specific; usually they are natural cavities created by Downy Woodpeckers. We can invite these amazing Wrens into our yards with a birdhouse built to their specific requirements. The floor should be 4″x4.” The entrance should be 4″ to 6″ above the floor. The diameter of the hole should be 1″ to 1 1/4.” And the house should be 6′ to 10′ above the ground.

The large Carolina Wren, whom we hear and see through winter, does not migrate. It would need a larger home to meet its housing needs.

Wrens eat insects and spiders; they are good garden buddies. Why not invite them into your yard?

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