The Wren - March 2015

 

Photo taken by Lin in her garden, Bawburgh

 

Spring is on the way! Aconites and snowdrops have been flowering for some time. The garden is full of excited birds pairing and looking for nest sites. Insects are taking advantage of sunny weather and coming out to soak up any possible warmth.

One of the birds seen most in our garden this winter is the wren. These tiny brown dumpy birds, with stick up tails, are the most widespread and the most common of all the British breeding birds. They are secretive, flitting from bush to bush with astonishing energy, flying usually in straight lines, close to the ground. They are more likely to be seen in winter as they forage frantically for spiders and insects which are generally in short supply. Their long thin bills are ideally suited to probing for these foods in nooks and crevices. Their scientific name, Troglodytes, means "cave dweller" which is a reference to this behaviour.

Wrens have a loud melodious song, which in proportion to their size, is the loudest of any British song bird.  Both males and females sing, mostly in the early mornings in spring and summer. The males are territorial and will see off any intruding male wrens. Females may be attracted to the song of nearby males and may flit off for clandestine affairs, before returning to their partner.

In April the male bird constructs several globe-shaped nests of leaves, moss and grass, in holes in walls, banks, trees, or indeed old nests. The female then chooses her favourite, lines it with hair and feathers, and lays 5 to 8 eggs (white with reddish spots). Incubation is by the female only although the young are fed by both parents. When the female is incubating her eggs, the male will go off for his own clandestine affairs, although he will not play any part in rearing any other offspring apart from his chosen mate's.

Because of the wrens' size, and because they rely on insects and spiders for food, they are unable to survive prolonged and severe cold weather, and populations may be devastated. To help wrens in winter, take crushed peanuts, fat balls and cheese, and place under low bushes on the ground. Wrens will often gather together in communal roosts in winter thus conserving heat. In Norfolk in the winter of 1969, it was recorded that 61 wrens roosted in 1 nesting box!

 Interesting Wren Facts:

 

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lingibson@bawburghvillage.co.uk