14 May 2014

The House Wren

By Jorge Ventocilla

This small bird should be acknowledged as a symbol of the many birds of the Americas. It can be easily found from Canada to Tierra del Fuego, including the Lesser Antilles and even the Falkland Islands (Argentine Islas Malvinas).

Its scientific name is Troglodytes aedon. It is usually brown, with subtle darker barring on wings and tail. Since this songbird hardly stays in one place, it is not easy to see how wonderful its feathers are; even though they are mostly brown, they are indeed beautiful.

From February through May, the House Wren entertains us with its songs and can be seen looking for places to nest, especially around houses. It is commonly seen in pairs and always showing off how much energy it has to spare. It feeds on insects, even cockroaches, which makes of the House Wren a delightful ally to have. This is probably why it is called cucarachero (“roach eater”), and also soterrey, in Panama.

The House Wren likes bushes in wide open spaces and inhabited areas.  It makes nests in cracks and crevices in walls or holes in trees and it will gladly settle for a man-made nest if it is located in a private, safe place.

Take a look at this photo, and see it for yourself. It is not a great photo, but it shows a House Wren nesting in one of these “nest-houses” or man-made nests. This one was a gift from Mateo, my nephew; he took it down from a tree and it is still used for welcoming newborn House Wrens. By the way, they really like these “nest-houses”, like the ones sold by artisans in El Valle and nearby areas.

In comparison with the size of this bird, its chirping song is very powerful, maybe too powerful, a true display of virtuosity during mating season (February through May, as mentioned above). Young House Wrens are fed by both parents, 4 to 6 times an hour, sometimes more.

When they nest around our homes, and once we find them, it’s like having a new tenant…they won’t go unnoticed.

Hence, if you hear a House Wren singing and fluttering around, please be considerate to it because that “gentleman” is in love for sure. One final note: keep your cat away from them…your kitty can turn into a menace to young House Wrens.

English translation by Sara I. Melo D.

Galeria de Fotos: 
 El ruiseñor, en ilustración de Dana Gardner. Tomada del libro “¿Qué Vuela Ahí? Guía para conocer, apreciar y proteger a las aves de la ciudad de Panamá”. Ilustraciones de Dana Gardner, 2004. (Ediciones en español e ingles).
Saliendo de una casa-nido. Fotografía de Jorge Ventocilla.