For the Birds: Spring Really Is Coming….

Friday, March 2, 2018

Bewick’s Wren with ant by Elaine Chuang
By Christine Southwick

Snow, hail, and freezing weather may still be around, but our resident birds have started their breeding processes in response to increased sunlight hours.

Local Anna's Hummingbirds have been starting to build nests for the last two months. I have two females collecting cotton fibers from the nesting material I hang out for that reason.

The males are still fending off other males, but are now feeding at the same time as the females.

The Bewick’s Wrens are now doing pairing rituals. Their lively buzzes and bubbly songs bring such joy to my ears. Plus, these happy notes and little contact sounds help me find the two or three brown little birds with the bright white eyeliner.

Bewick’s Wren singing by Elaine Chuang
Since they are usually climbing low among the bushes and trees, they can be hard to find unless they are making their presence known by their bubbly happy songs, or their scolding “You-are–too-close-to-me” sounds.

The male Bewick’s Wren sings to protect his territory, and to attract a mate. This a full-time effort that he must endeavor to win by excelling melodiously.

And once he has won the affection of this year’s mate, then he has to fashion three to four foundation nests for the female’s approval. Once the female has selected the preferred nest, she will finish it with feathers, hair, leaves and mosses.

Who Me? Bewick’s Wren at successful nestbox
Photo by Elaine Chuang
While the female sits on her 4-6 eggs the male brings food to her, and then stays and helps feed their offspring. Often the female has a second brood, usually with the same male.

These spunky little birds, usually with their tails cocked over their backs, can be found climbing on branches and in the leaves on the ground, looking for their buggy delicacies, especially those tasty spiders and ants.

Anna’s Hummingbird nesting locally
Photo by Doug Parrott
Offering water, and keeping it liquid during freezing weather, is the best way to bring in Bewick’s Wrens and other birds.

Suet is a fast energy boost, and will bring even more birds such as Northern Flickers, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, maybe even a Pileated Woodpecker. Bushtits will flock to a suet feeder, since finding bugs during freezes becomes quite hard.

The nickname Jenny Wren was used in older English nursery rhymes and was even mentioned in Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor. (FYI: Bewick’s is pronounced like the car - Buick.)


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