110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Nature Scenes: Carolina wrens roost in abandoned hornet nests, barns, and other shelters
By Lynn Bowen
posted Aug 4, 2014 - 9:59:18am
Petite woodland Carolina wrens are only 5.5 inches long, with a 7.5-inch wingspan. They have large heads that look to be sitting on their shoulders since their necks are so short. Cinnamon-colored plumage is on their upper body, and their underparts are cream-colored, with a distinctive white stripe that runs artistically over each eye down to their shoulders. Their tail is tipped upward, looking quite perky.
The male sings many songs, as well as sounding scolding notes when the occasion calls for it. The female never sings, but she can make chattering and scolding noises. One of the favorite tunes of the male is a bell-like “teakettle, teakettle, teakettle” in rolling sounds. Wrens sing all day and in all seasons.
With their pointed bills, they find their main food, which is insects, but larvae, spiders, berries and fruit are on their menu too. They forage on or near the ground, since they walk more than they fly. They are weak fliers, in fact. Carolina wrens stay near brush to hide from predators.
These .75-ounce birds live in the eastern half of the U.S., but favor the Southern climate. They adapt to forests, swamps, farms and tree-filled neighborhoods. These monogamous cuties, usually found in pairs, stay in their territory all year. Each year, the pair may have several broods. Together they build a cup-shaped nest from grass, leaves, pine needles, snakeskin and even paper. They build it in branches, stumps, windowsills, mailboxes, hanging baskets, or, as my neighbor found out, in a message box.
The female usually lays four eggs, and she incubates them for two weeks. The male brings food to her. Both parents feed their chicks for two weeks, and then they all leave the nest. After all, the nest is merely a crib, not a permanent home. However, Carolina wrens, apparently not feeling safe in trees, roost in abandoned hornet nests, hanging planters, garages, barns and other shelters.
Hearing and seeing a Carolina wren can bring cheer to anyone who is lucky enough to have one in his view!
— Bowen lives in DeLand. Send email to her at email@example.com.
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