About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Which one of these birds is not like the others?

Top: Male House Sparrow/Female House Sparrow
Bottom: Carolina Wren/ Male House Sparrow
A lot of brown birds look alike to human eyes but I encourage you to take the time to really look at the birds visiting your feeder. Like cats and dogs, different species of birds have different characters.

I was watching the feeder today when a Carolina Wren zoomed the feeder. It poked and pushed until it was the only one feeding. The sparrows and squirrels stood off to the side to wait their turn. Carolina Wrens seem to be bursting with energy and I enjoy having them in the yard.

In the summer they eat a ton of bugs and in the winter they are very entertaining to watch at the feeder. You might hear them before you see them. Their song is beautiful. Click here to listen.

The “Carolina" refers to the Carolinian Zone, an area which includes much of Eastern United States and extends south to the Carolinas. The climate of this area is also moderated by our Great Lakes, so it is able to support animal and plant species usually not found in other northern parts.

Our Carolina Wrens do not migrate but are very sensitive to cold weather. Severe winters result in a marked decline in their numbers. Having a known source of food is essential for providing wrens with the energy, stamina, and nutrition they need to survive. For this reason, it is a good idea to put out a feeder to help these birds (and other bird species as well) survive the winter.

Carolina Wrens are primarily insect eaters, but suet, peanuts, seed cylinders and mealworms are good substitutes for scarce insects during winter. They can be attracted to your feeders by providing a brush pile close to your feeding area. I have a pine tree and a bushy viburnum to give the birds cover. They feel more secure with a place to seek refuge nearby.

I also have a wren house that it can sleep in at night. A good idea to encourage Carolina wrens to stay and feed in or near your yard is to provide houses or roosting pockets near the bird feeders. Roosting pockets are little shelters, much like birdhouses (but smaller and not meant to be used as a nesting site), where the birds can roost and hide from the wind chill. The combination of roosting pockets and bird feeders during winter is one sure way to attract Carolina wrens in your area.

So take a look at all those brown birds that are visiting. With a Birds of Michigan field guide at your side, you'll learn all their names in no time!

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MaMaw said...

I enjoyed your post about Carolina wrens. They are one of my favorite birds. I love their spunk and energy. Thanks for the great idea for roosting pockets. We have a feeder near a bush with lots of dense branches, and in the winter, they love to rest inside the bush.

Lynn Cummings said...

THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH for finally helping me find out who the "Cheater, cheater, cheater" bird is. It's been driving me nuts for months. Haven't seen any Carolina Wrens around recently, but obviously they're here. Thank you, thank you!