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Posts Tagged ‘house wren’

Toward the end of the home school year, Sam, Evangeline and I started learning about birds. A couple of mornings a week, we would listen to bird songs on a CD, then take silent walks through the neighborhood, listening for the calls we had learned and trying to identify what kind of bird was singing them. The robin was easy enough, as was the bluejay. Evangeline had long been friends with the chickadee so we knew his song well, along with my favorite, the mourning dove. Sometimes we would get mixed up: was it the cardinal whose whistle ascended at the end while the tufted titmouse’s whistle descended, or the other way around? But it didn’t matter; it just made us listen the more closely, and we felt like we were getting to know a whole new sub-population of our neighborhood.

On one walk, as we passed under a tree, a small, stubby brown bird we didn’t recognize was becoming agitated. Directly across from his branch, poking her head out of a hole in the eaves of a house, was his wife, no doubt sitting on a nest, and the father bird was determined to protect his family from our menacing presence. At home, we did a little research and identified the bird as the House Wren.

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I learned an interesting fact about House Wrens.The male of the species will build a stick nest, usually in a cavity of some kind, to woo the female. He may even make several such nests in different spots until, finally satisfied, she selects one in which to lay her eggs. Even then, she has the final say on the house decor and might toss out and replace unwanted twigs. I resonated with this description of the rights of the female wren, especially since, my name being Jennifer, I sometimes sign my emails to my husband “Jenny Wren” after the bird in Beatrix Potter’s Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle who needs her wine-stained tablecloth washed by the hedgehog washerwoman.

The Wren family reminded me of a book I read to the children when they were little, The Best Nest by P.D. Eastman. In that story, the bird wife is dissatisfied with their old home, and she and her mate set off house-hunting, searching for the nest that will meet all her expectations. They run into trouble along the way, and, thinking his wife has died in a storm, the despondent bird husband seeks refuge in the nearest shelter– their original home. Here he discovers Mrs. Bird who, with a newly laid egg, has decided that the old nest is the best nest for a brand new bird.

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I would sometimes like to claim the privilege of the female House Wren to choose and arrange her nest just so. And  sometimes, like Mrs. Bird, I’d love to pick up and move to someplace brand new, somewhere that would satisfy all my longings for the perfect little cottage, the perfect garden, all in perfect order.. But like Mrs. Bird, I have decided that the best nest is where my young birds have made their home. So, wherever these guys are is the place for me:Image

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