bottom holes, and had built a nest
in the top half.
To keep rain from leaking in on
the little family, I fastened a piece
of plastic wrap onto the roof with
clothespins. This rickety little bird
shanty, with its makeshift rain
cape, produced four fledglings.
What my wrens wanted one
spring was not the spiffy $30
birdhouse I’d installed for them
(“Guaranteed to attract wrens.”
Yeah, right.) but rather an old straw
beach bag I had hung on a tree
branch and then forgotten about. I
found the empty wren nest the following year, concealed like a hideaway bed at the bottom of the bag.
A Pocket Full of Wrens
None of these choices should
have surprised me, because
Bewick’s wrens, house wrens, and
Carolina wrens are famous for their
eccentric taste in nesting sites.
Authors and painters have
memorialized the tendency of
wrens to nest anywhere, a trait that
strikes us humans as charmingly
quirky. Poet Mary Oliver writes
that “the little wrens have carried
a hundred sticks into an old rusted
pail,” and John James Audubon
painted a pair of wrens nesting in
a man’s hat hooked on a branch.
It was Audubon, by the way, who
gave the Bewick’s wren its name.
The honor went to Audubon’s Brit-
ish friend Thomas Bewick (pro-
nounced “Buick”), a master wood-
engraver and fellow naturalist.
TEXAS HILL COUNTRY — Fine Short Tour Apr 25-29, 2011 — Golden-cheek Warbler SOU THEAST ARIZONA — Hummingbirds & Owls May 6-15 & Jul 26-Aug 6, 2011 — Trogons ATTU or ADAK — Best of the Aleutians May 2011 — Asiatic Strays TRINIDAD & TOBAGO — Tropical Birds May 10-20, 2011 — Nesting Sea Turtles COSTA RICA— Two Fine Summer Tours July 30 - August 7, August 8-16, 2011
50 Great Destinations*
216 Spring Lane
Peach Bottom, PA
*Free 2011 Catalog*