Vol. 2, No. 3 – The House Wren

The House Wren for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

The House Wren for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

From col. F. M. Woodruff. Copyrighted by
Nature Study Pub. Co., 1897, Chicago.

THE HOUSE WREN.

“It was a merry time
When Jenny Wren was young,
When prettily she looked,
And sweetly, too, she sung.”

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N looking over an old memorandum book the other day,” says Col. S. T. Walker, of Florida, “I came across the following notes concerning the nesting of the House Wren. I was sick at the time, and watched the whole proceeding, from the laying of the first stick to the conclusion. The nest was placed in one of the pigeonholes of my desk, and the birds effected an entrance to the room through sundry cracks in the log cabin.”

Nest begun April 15th.
Nest completed and first egg laid April 27th.
Last egg laid May 3rd.
Began sitting May 4th.
Hatching completed May 18th.
Young began to fly May 27th.
Young left the nest June 1st.
Total time occupied 47 days.

Such is the usual time required for bringing forth a brood of this species of Wren, which is the best known of the family. In the Atlantic states it is more numerous than in the far west, where wooded localities are its chosen haunts, and where it is equally at home in the cottonwoods of the river valleys, and on the aspens just below the timber line on lofty mountains.

Mrs. Osgood Wright says very quaintly that the House Wren is a bird who has allowed the word male to be obliterated from its social constitution at least: that we always speak of Jenny Wren: always refer to the Wren as sheas we do of a ship. That it is Johnny Wren who sings and disports himself generally, but it is Jenny, who, by dint of much scolding and fussing, keeps herself well to the front. She chooses the building-site and settles all the little domestic details. If Johnny does not like her choice, he may go away and stay away; she will remain where she has taken up her abode and make a second matrimonial venture.

The House Wren’s song is a merry one, sudden, abruptly ended, and frequently repeated. It is heard from the middle of April to October, and upon the bird’s arrival it at once sets about preparing its nest, a loose heap of sticks with a soft lining, in holes, boxes, and the like. From six to ten tiny, cream-colored eggs are laid, so thickly spotted with brown that the whole egg is tinged.

The House Wren is not only one of our most interesting and familiar neighbors, but it is useful as an exterminator of insects, upon which it feeds. Frequently it seizes small butterflies when on the wing. We have in mind a sick child whose convalescence was hastened and cheered by the near-by presence of the merry House Wren, which sings its sweet little trilling song, hour after hour, hardly stopping long enough to find food for its meals.

Summary:

HOUSE WREN.Troglodytes aedon.

Range—Eastern United States and southern Canada, west to the Mississippi Valley; winters in southern portions.

Nest—Miscellaneous rubbish, sticks, grasses, hay, and the like.

Eggs—Usually seven; white, dotted with reddish brown.


House Wren Proof Shot by Lee at Circle B

House Wren Proof Shot by Lee at Circle B – Cropped

Lee’s Addition:

Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works. (1 Chronicles 16:9 KJV)

What a neat little bird. I was thrilled to get to see one up close just this last Saturday. We don’t see them often, at least I don’t. We were birdwatching out at Circle B Bar Reserve and the Wren just sat there and sang while three of us tried to get its picture. My photos are not so good, but at least they are a “proof shot.” I have heard and seen the Carolina Wren out there occasionally, but not the House.

House Wren Proof Shot Singing cropped

House Wren Proof Shot Singing cropped

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Now here is a real photo by a much better photographer:

House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) by Ray

House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) by Ray

Wrens belong to the Wrens – Troglodytidae Family which has 83 species at present. “The wrens are mostly small, brownish passerine birds in the mainly New World family Troglodytidae. Only the Eurasian Wren occurs in the Old World, where in Anglophone regions it is commonly known simply as the “wren” as it is the originator of the name. The name wren has been applied to other unrelated birds, particularly the New Zealand wrens (Acanthisittidae) and the Australian wrens (Maluridae).

Most wrens are small and rather inconspicuous, except for their loud and often complex songs. Notable exceptions are the relatively large members of the genus Campylorhynchus, which can be quite bold in their behavior. Wrens have short wings that are barred in most species, and they often hold their tails upright. As far as known, wrens are primarily insectivorous, eating insects, spiders and other small arthropods, but many species also eat vegetable matter and some will take small frogs/lizards.

The House Wren, (Troglodytes aedon), is a very small songbird of the wren family, Troglodytidae. It occurs from Canada to southernmost South America, and is thus the most widely distributed bird in the Americas. It occurs in most suburban areas in its range and it is the single most common wren. Its taxonomy is highly complex and some subspecies groups are often considered separate species.

Adults are 4.3 to 5.1 in (11 to 13 cm) long, with a 5.9 in (15 cm) wingspan and weigh about 0.35 to 0.42 oz (10 to 12 g ). Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 1.9 to 2.1 in (4.7 to 5.3 cm), the tail is 1.5 to 1.7 in (3.9 to 4.4 cm),  The subspecies vary greatly, with upper parts ranging from dull greyish-brown to rich rufescent-brown, and the underparts ranging from brown, over buff and pale grey, to pure white. All subspecies have blackish barring to the wings and tail, and some also to the flanks. All subspecies show a faint eye-ring and eyebrow and have a long, thin bill with a blackish upper mandible, and a black-tipped yellowish or pale grey lower mandible. The legs are pinkish or grey. The short tail is typically held cocked.

This bird’s rich bubbly song is commonly heard during the nesting season but rarely afterwards. There is marked geographical variation in its song, though somewhat more gradual than in the birds’ outward appearance which can strikingly differ e.g. on neighboring islands in the Caribbean. Birds from far north and south of the species’ range nonetheless have songs that differ markedly.” (Wikipedia w/editing)

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Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

The above article is an article in the monthly serial for September 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

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(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Phoebe

The Previous Article – The Ruby-Throated Humming Bird

ABC’s of the Gospel

Links:

Wrens – Troglodytidae Family

House Wren – All About Birds

House Wren – Wikipedia

Birds Vol 1 #4 – The Marsh Wren

Long-billed Marsh Wren by Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

Long-billed Marsh Wren by Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

Vol 1. April, 1897 No. 4

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THE MARSH WREN.

With tail up, and head up,
The Wren begins to sing;
He fills the air with melody,
And makes the alders ring;
We listen to his cadences,
We watch his frisky motions,
We think—his mate attending him—
He’s got some nesting notions.—C. C. M.

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HESE Wrens inhabit marshy and weedy bottom lands along river courses, and have all the brisk manners and habits of the family. This species, however, has a peculiar habit of building several nests every season, and it is suggested that these are built to procure protection for the female, in order that when search is made for the nest where she is sitting, the male may lure the hunter to an empty nest.

Its song is not unlike that of the House Wren, though less agreeable. It is a summer resident, arriving in May and departing in September. Its nest, which is found along borders of rivers, is made of sedge and grasses suspended near tall reeds. It has been found hanging over a small stream, suspended from the drooping bough of an alder tree, swayed to and fro by every breath of air. A careful observer states that a Wren will forsake her nest when building it, sooner than any other bird known to him. Disturb her repeatedly when building and she leaves it apparently without cause; insert your fingers in her tenement and she will leave it forever. But when the eggs are laid, the Wren will seldom abandon her treasure, and when her tender brood are depending on her for food, she will never forsake them, even though the young be handled, or the female bird be caught on the nest while feeding them. The food of the Wren is insects, their larvae and eggs, and fruit in season.

This Wren has justly been called a perennial songster. “In Spring the love-song of the Wren sounds through the forest glades and hedges, as the buds are expanding into foliage and his mate is seeking a site for a cave-like home. And what a series of jerks it is composed of, and how abruptly he finishes his song, as if suddenly alarmed; but this is his peculiar habit and common to him alone. In summer we hear his song morning, noon, and night, go forth for very joyfulness, as he wanders hither and thither in his leafy bower.” It is only in the moulting season that he does not sing.

A lady who used to attract a great number of birds to her garden with crumbs, seeds, and other dainties, said that when the weather became cold the Wrens used to gather upon a large branch of a tree, about four inches beneath another branch. They assembled there in the evening and packed themselves very comfortably for the night, three or four deep, apparently for the sake of warmth, the topmost Wren always having his back pressed against the outer branch as if to keep all steady. Pitying their forlorn condition, she provided a bedroom for them—a square box lined with flannel, and with a very small round hole for a door. This was fastened to the branch, and the birds promptly took possession of it, their numbers increasing nightly, until at least forty Wrens crowded into the box which did not seem to afford room for half the number. When thus assembled they became so drowsy as to permit themselves to be gently handled.

Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris) by Ray

Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris) by Ray


THE MARSH WRENS.

A happier pair of birds than these little Wrens it would be hard to find.

They have just come up from taking their morning bath and are going to sing a while before going to work on their nests.

You see I say nests. That is a strange thing about the Wrens, they build several nests. I wonder if you can tell why they do this. If you can’t, ask your teacher about it.

It is a little too early in the season or I would have one of the nests in the picture for you to look at.

I will try to describe it to you, so that you will know it when you see it. These little Wrens make their nests of coarse grasses, reed stalks, and such things, lined with fine grasses. It is round like a ball, or nearly so, and has the opening in the side. They fasten them to the reeds and bushes.

If you wish to get acquainted with these birds, you must visit the tall grasses and cat-tails along rivers and creeks and in marshes.

You won’t have to let them know that you are coming; they will see you long before you see them, and from their little nests they will begin to scold you, for fear that you mean to do them harm.

When they see that you mean them no harm, they will begin to entertain you with their songs. Oh, how they do sing! It just seems as though they would burst with song.

You can see how happy the one is in the picture. The other little fellow will soon take his turn. See how straight he holds his tail up. Find out all you can about these Wrens. You notice they have long bills. We call them Long-billed Marsh Wrens. There are several other kinds. You surely must have seen their cousins, the House Wrens. I will show you their pictures some day.

Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris) by Ian

Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris) by Ian


Lee’s Addition:

This Wren, the Marsh Wren, belongs to the Troglodytidae – Wrens Family. There are actually three families that Wrens show up in: the Troglodytidae – Wrens; New Zealand Wrens – Acanthisittidae; Australasian Wrens – Maluridae (Fairywrens, Emu-Wrens, Grasswren). There are other birds with Wren in the names like; Wrenthrush, Wren-babblers, Wren-Spinetail, Wren-Warblers. “There are approximately 80 species of true wrens in approximately 20 genera.” There is a slight difference in the Eastern and western populations of the Marsh Wren. Their songs are the biggest difference. The eastern wrens are more musical than the western ones.

The Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris) is a small North American songbird of the wren family. It is sometimes called Long-billed Marsh Wren to distinguish it from the Sedge Wren, also known as Short-billed Marsh Wren.

Adults have brown upperparts with a light brown belly and flanks and a white throat and breast. The back is black with white stripes. They have a dark cap with a white line over the eyes and a short thin bill.

The male’s song is a loud gurgle used to declare ownership of territory; western males have a more varied repertoire.

Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they sing among the branches. (Psalms 104:12 ESV)

Their breeding habitat is marshes with tall vegetation such as cattails across North America. In the western United States, some birds are permanent residents. Other birds migrate to marshes and salt marshes in the southern United States and Mexico. These birds forage actively in vegetation, sometimes flying up to catch insects in flight. They mainly eat insects, also spiders and snails.

The nest is an oval lump attached to marsh vegetation, entered from the side. The clutch is normally 4–6 eggs, though the number can range from 3–10. The male builds many unused nests in his territory; he may puncture the eggs of other birds nesting nearby.

Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris) by Daves BirdingPix

Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris) by Daves BirdingPix

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Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 April 1897 No 4 – Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

The above article is an article in the monthly serial for April 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

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(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Arizona Green Jay

Previous Article – The Bohemian Wax-Wing

Wordless Birds

Links:

Marsh Wrens – All About Birds

Marsh Wren – Birdweb

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Ad for Birds Illustrated, 1897

Ad for Birds Illustrated, 1897

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