One bird that is always welcome in my garden is the wren. (Truthfully, all birds are welcome in my garden, except for maybe a swarm of grackles because they'll empty the bird feeder in 2 minutes.) Wrens eat harmful bugs like caterpillars, they have a really nice song, and they're pretty curious. I mainly see Carolina wrens here, but we'll get house wrens too. I think I've seen a Winter wren once or twice as well, but sometimes it's hard to tell what type of little brown bird is flitting around under the plants. You see a little motion, catch a glimpse of brown, and that's about it until it bursts out and flies away.
|Photo by Errol Taskin, from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/|
Another thing I like about wrens is they're really curious, and sometimes make their nests is the strangest places. I've read stories about wrens making nests in old boots, in the center of a big ball of twine, and inside somebody's bathroom!
You might not believe the bathroom story, but I do. A couple of times a year (at least) on days that I leave the garage door open for a few hours I'll walk in there and be startled by a bird flying around. It's always a wren, and it's usually building a nest on top of one of my garage door openers.
This happened again just yesterday, which reminded me it's time to hang the awesome new birdhouse I got as a Chirstmas present from my nephew and two nieces. Take a look:
It's a wren house made from recycled soda bottles (so the label says), and is so sturdy I think it could probably stop a bullet. The top opens:
The side opens too:
The wire mesh is to help the birds climb up to the hole, since the plastic is more slippery than wood would be I guess. I thought I had the perfect spot to hang it, right here under the deck:
As I was walking toward the deck, I saw a wren (probably the same one I chased out of the garage because they're rather territorial I've read) with its beak full of leaves fly up between the double support beams right at the end, above the hanging planter. Taking a closer look, it's definitely building a nest there already!
(The styrofoam was put there a couple years ago to keep sparrows from nesting there.) So I was too slow with the house, and decided not to hang it there. Instead I'll put it way in the back of the yard, which should be far enough away that it could be used by another family.
By the way, there are a few stray cats that have been living somewhere around here, and spend a lot of time in our yard. Over the years we've adopted a couple of great cats that were once strays in our yard. There is no cat more grateful than a cat that's had to spend a Winter living in a den it dug in a pile of leaves and now gets to live in a warm, dry house -- at least in my experience. I should point out that our strays get descriptive names only, until they're adopted and live with us as indoor cats. "Bones" became "Bela" after we took him in, and recently "Growly" became "Digby".
This is "Super-Whitey", and when we first saw her last summer it was only because she didn't see us first. She was very wary of people. Over time she's gotten more relaxed, and only in the last few days has she come up to me and let me touch her. She now is so affectionate toward me, she rubs against my legs whenever I stand still.
It's actually quite annoying sometimes, but it's nice having a cat or two hanging around when I'm working outside.
Ok, back to the bird houses. I want to put my new birdhouse somewhere in back... I've got a really old one back there already, but it's never been used. Well, it was used when it was newer and was hanging under the deck, but then it was abandoned and not used for a couple of years, so I moved it in back.
I think a small piece of the edge of the roof cracked off, which made the gap in the side a little too big. Not really sure how picky those birds are, but there's something about this house they just don't like. It's really just a decoration now. Anyway, maybe this other tree will work?
Looks pretty good to me. It's a red mulberry tree that has a really interesting form due to having heavy grape vines growing on it several years ago. A few minutes spent on the ladder, and the house is hung!
Super-Whitey got tired and settled in for a nap behind me:
Now all I need to do is wait and see if any birds use the house. They may not use it right away, or they may not like the location and won't use it at all. If nobody uses it this year I'll probably move it under the deck next Winter.
I don't know how they couldn't like it though -- it's a really great birdhouse! Plus, what a fabulous location, as long as you ignore the nearby sleeping cat!