Wren teaches lessons of feistiness, cheer

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Look up House Wren and you’ll get this description, “A plain brown bird with an effervescent voice.” Effervescent — “vivacious and enthusiastic.” “Cheery” and “perky” are in there, too. These qualities irritate some people, however I’ve always thought joy a healthier choice than gloomy and glum. Not that Eeyore isn’t a lovable soul — but the world needs counter balance.

Long before the whole mind/body connection getting press these days, the Bible’s book of Proverbs speaks on the subject. “A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.” My personal favorite is, “A cheerful heart has a continual feast.”

The wren mixes a bit of feistiness with its zest. It will defend a nest hole with a fierceness larger birds give in to. I witnessed this the other day after a swallow tried moving into a nesting box a wren had claimed. The wren returned and dropped its twig upon finding a stranger peeking out. It danced across the top of the box, head overhanging the edge, until the swallow flew off. Then it hopped in the opening and stood guard, bugling as a swallow pair swooped past.

Once a wren flew low over a chipmunk across our deck, chasing it away from its nest. The chipmunk dashed here and there trying to dodge the determined little fighter jet above its head. Highly entertaining.

The male wren builds several incomplete “sample” nests. His lady gets to choose her preference and finishes it with the lining. Even in the bird world, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

A wren has a smart tactic for keeping its nest clean. To clear out the mites and other parasites it weaves spider egg sacs in with its nesting material. The spiders hatch and eat the unwanted nest guests.

This songbird gets around — being found from Canada to the southern tip of South America. It may not win an exotic avian contest, but it’s got friends everywhere. And big band jazz breaking from its throat.

Goes to show you get a lot of mileage from persistence with cheer.

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