Backyard Safari: Little wren speaks with a big voice
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Media contact: Jessica Basham
If you've ever wondered which bird sings the
familiar, loud "doodalee, doodalee, doodalee" song, it is one of
the most common backyard birds in Florida, the Carolina wren.
The Carolina wren is a lively little bird that
often fluffs itself into a puffy, round shape to appear larger than
its 6- or 7-inch body.
For its size, the male has one of the loudest
voices of all birds.
This songbird can sing 27 to 47 different tunes and
usually sings one repeatedly before switching to another. The male
and female often sing together. If the birds feel scared or angry,
their voice descends in sound, and they give a sharp "chirp!"
Carolina wrens are rusty brown on their upper body
and wings and are light orange to tan on their underbelly. They
have a white line above their eyes, almost like an eyebrow.
These birds aren't shy around humans, so they build
their nests almost anywhere - in shrubs, tree cavities, vines,
potted plants and even empty boxes or mailboxes.
When a female wren chooses her lifetime mate, she
also gets to pick a nest. That is because the male wren builds
several nests made of sticks and twigs, usually near the ground.
Once the female has picked her favorite, she fills it with soft
things like grasses, leaves, fur, hair, feathers - whatever she can
find. Female wrens lay three to seven dull-white eggs dusted with
brown speckles. The small end of the egg usually has thicker brown
spots that create a ring around the egg.
When the eggs hatch about two weeks later,
sometimes the male feeds and cares for the young while the female
goes to another nest and lays another set of eggs. These wrens can
lay several clutches of eggs a year. The babies leave the nest 12
to 16 days later.
Carolina wrens like to hide in shrubs, vines and
hedges. They especially like elderberry bushes, berry plants and
Virginia creeper vines. They are always moving and are quick to
stick their beaks into cracks and crevices of tree branches and
tree trunks looking for tasty spiders and other bugs. They also
love seeds and will visit bird feeders several times throughout the
day, especially if there are sunflower seeds, peanuts or suet
When you go out to listen and look for the Carolina
wren, do not forget to grab binoculars and a bird journal, if you
have started one. To become a bird detective and junior birder,
and select "Birding Resources" in the left-hand menu; then click on
"Wings Over Florida." That is where you can learn about the Junior
Birder Program and can download a copy of the Bird Detective