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Welcome to the Pine River Review. Our sight is dedicated to our little homestead located along the Pine River tucked inside the Chippewa Nature Center's 1400 Acres of wild in Michigan's lower penninsula. We love to share our pictures, video, comment, and our own homespun music. Step inside our world as we celebrate this beautiful nook!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

World Bird Wednesday LXXVII

It Seemed Like Such a Nice Little Bird

     All of my bird photography this last week has been of the backyard yard variety. No matter. Miss Suzanne and my buddy Joe the Bird Whistler were up visiting over the weekend and with those two nature lovers in the house the combined aura was sure to attract the new and unusual to my Pine River digs.
    Suzanne and I have a lovely daughter who thoughtfully presented me with a birdhouse last Christmas. It has been hanging on a shepherd's hook next to the high bank along the riverside. This weekend we noticed a commotion in and around it's confines and after a quick flip through the field guide I learned that we had a pair of House wrens (Troglodytes aedon),  setting up housekeeping.
    Thunder showers and leaden skies have been the order of the week and I have sought birds that would sit still and frequent regular perches. My ISO stayed locked on 400 and shutter speeds hung in there around 1/250 seconds at best. In these dismal conditions we could not have picked a more entertaining pair of birds to study. Every twig and stick flown in to begin the nest building ritual was accompanied by a remarkably loud and melodic virtuosity. For a "little brown job" the House wren's bustling energy and charming sing song performances easily trumped May's other early arrivals even with their flashier neon plumage.
    We welcomed the little devil into our hearts. 

    Observe please the unspectacular profile of the wren. Once upon a time, back a hundred years, people built specialised bird houses to attract wrens into close quarters with their homes, such was the power of it's enchanting song. It's vigorous nature and voracious appetite for annoying insects endeared it to humankind and the House wren became family. Wrens flourished in our domestic shadow.
    Until, that is... it was observed, for all it's winning ways, the wren harbored a wicked secret. Away from the admirable nest building and romantic crooning it was discovered sneaking into the nurseries of other cavity nesting song birds, such as the beloved Bluebird, and piercing the unprotected eggs fatally with its needle like beak.
    Ornithological journals of the 1920's are lit up with the passionate debate; in good conscience could the House wren still be given special treatment now that its murderous ways had been revealed? Should their lovingly constructed nest boxes be dismantled on moral grounds? Would their lovely song be as enjoyable knowing its dark side?
    Some argued the wrens good qualities gave it special dispensation and, after all, this tendency to murder the young of others as they slept egg bound wasn't likely to disrupt the natural order in any meaningful way.
    Others suggested that to follow natures indiscretions with a moral compass calibrated to human sensibilities was ludicrous. This, in their mind, was a behavior to be admired in a undersized competitor fighting for it's very survival in a dog eat dog world.
    Regardless, the House wrens reputation took a hard blow to the chin.

    It is hard sometimes on these pages to get a good perspective on the relative size of our perching birds. To help, I placed a penny on a stick often used by my resident pair of House wrens and waited for a landing.
    Weight? The hard working adult wren can tip the scales at around 12 grams, just shy of four cents worth. (3.1 grams per one pre-1982 copper penny)
    In contrast, a mature Rose-breasted grosbeak weighs in at about 21 cents. You get the picture!


This is the home of World Bird Wednesday. A place for bird photographers from around the world to gather and share their photographs and experiences as they pursue Natures most beautiful treasurers, the birds.

You don't have to be a Bird Watcher or expert photographer to join in, just enjoy sharing what you bring back from your explorations and adventures into nature!

#1Simply copy the above picture onto your W.B.W. blog entry, it contains a link for your readers to share in the fun. Or, you can copy this link on to your blog page to share WBW.

#2Come to The Pine River Review on Tuesday Noon EST North America through Wednesday midnight and submit your blog entry with InLinkz.

#3Check back in during the course of the next day and explore these excellent photoblogs!

The idea of a meme is that you will visit each others blogs and perhaps leave a comment to encourage your compatriots!

Come on it's your turn!


  1. Beautiful shots of the House Wren Dave! The shot of the bird singing is super and I'm glad you explained the penny photo. I was wondering how you trained that little ball of energy to land on it! I love the way you framed the Rose-breasted Grosbeak too. Gorgeous!

  2. had no idea on the 'dark side' of these birds! they're such cute murderers! :)

    love the grosbeak pics, too. gorgeous birds. i'm guessing their little fat beaks do not pierce others' eggs! :)

  3. Lots of information about this cute little Wren that I didn't know about. And a gorgeous Rose Breasted Grosbeak!

  4. Beautiful shots despite the "dismal" conditions! And I enjoyed the information, Springman. I didn't know that about wrens. I really like the penny idea...great photo!

  5. I did not know that 'deep dark secret' -- I never can remember that word that means ascribing human characteristics to animals and birds but we all tend todo it and apparently always have. I suspect that the wrens don't do as much damage to other birds as feral housecats....

    Anyway the wrens are darling and it's gotta' be great to see them setting up housekeeping. And I'd be in heaven if I had a rosebreasted grosbeak anywhere around me!

  6. what a great story!! i love when our feathered friends come to us, they look beautiful, no matter the conditions!!

    i love the penny idea, very cool shot!!

    thanks springman, this is a wonderful group!!

  7. I don't feel it is for us to question nature's ways. In the big picture the Wren is doing what he/she is meant to do. We should sit back and enjoy their joyous song and model parenting. They are adorable if not beautiful and they are a precious part of our natural world. Beautiful pictures and story ... Thank you!

    Andrea @ From The Sol

  8. I like your story to these wonderful photos!
    Good choices! Happy World Bird Wednesday to you!

    (I participate with a jay this week.
    Pictures taken in 2009. A lot of pictures is "hidden"
    behind the blue marked words.)

  9. Springman, Great shots! I had no idea the Wren was so inclined! Nasty! Ah, but so's life!

  10. Springman, funny that you should get a pair of house wrens this week! I just saw my first on as a yard bird this week too. I do not think it will stick around as I have not seen it since, but I was so pleased the day it showed up and I got photos too! It is strange that we attach moral values to nature but I know I am guilty of this too. However, I still love to see blue jays and wrens along with all the raptors. When I lived down in AZ, the concern was for my hummingbirds as thrashers and roadrunners are known to hunt and eat the species. I guess we have to let nature take its course but I still do not like to observe the kill. Nice post. I missed the penny and had to go back and look at the photo again. too busy reading I guess!

  11. I had no idea. So love their songs! Great shots of the wrens!

  12. Love the photos of the wrens. We haven't seen or heard them in the garden yet, hopefully soon. There are lots of other feathered lens friends returning.

  13. Great post and beautiful shots !!!!!!!

  14. Such fabulous shots. The coloring on the grosbeak is amazing and they all have such fine tuned details.

  15. An interesting read indeed. No doubt there are a lot of other cruelties of Nature going on that we do not know about yet species persevere...that is until humankind meddles with things. No submission from me this week, Springman. Best I get with the program for next week.

  16. Back to visit some of the links.... I had meant earlier to say something about the penny weight item in your post -- it is helpful....and so true that our pictures don't always show the size of the birds, sometimes to get the background sacrifices the birdiness.

  17. Wonderful bird photos! Love that grosbeak...just heard their song on another blog. Beautiful and so sweet!

  18. A wonderful post... and what a great idea to use the coin the share the size.
    I bet you were so pleased to get the shot you were after... I know I would.

  19. thanks for the info of the wren. It was interesting to read. Shots lovely as usual. :)

  20. I never knew house wrens had a dark side to their personalities! How interesting!

  21. That's so funny that you should post a rose breasted grosbeak today! I saw my first, at my feeder, this weekend. At first I thought it was a Downy woodpecker, but knew something just didn't seem right. I got out my camera and zoomed in for a better look. Beauties for sure :)

  22. Your yards birds are beautiful. The house wrens are noisy little birds and they will take over all the houses if you let them. I love the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, it is one of my many favorites. beautiful photos. Springman, great post and photos. Have a great day!

  23. The little devil looks so charming too! How quaint your adaptation of 21 cents worth of Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and I got your lovely picture, how beautiful it is/stunning. I've never seen a gull with a catch before; great photo too Springman. You never miss a beat.

  24. Great photos and very interesting comments about the habits (Bad ones!) of the little wrens.

  25. Beautiful captures! I have yet to see House Wrens in my area. The header photo wins the prize!

  26. Love your yard birds!Interesting read about the birds and I love the last shot!!Have a great day!


  27. I have admired the House Sparrows for their songs...I dislike their "dark side" and discourage them from nesting.

    Outstanding photos, Dave!

    Thanks for the tip on how to add a photo to your linky. That worked!:-)

  28. Great photos of the House Wren. Our resident wrens here are the Carolina Wrens. They are the busiest little birds I've ever seen. I just love them. I really admire your shot of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak - a beautiful bird.

  29. Incredibly beautiful pictures you show.
    Wishing you a good day.
    Hanne Bente /

  30. Wonderful photos of the Wren, and a very interesting text!
    Have a nice day:)

  31. I did not know that about the wren! Isn't it interesting that people always think they should "take over" nature? Wonderful photos, as always!

  32. Lovely pictures!
    Nice to get to know the behavior of Wrens.
    I guess we have to let nature take its course.
    I try to help as best.

    Thanks for sharing

  33. Congratulations on your new tenants, no matter what their dark side, they are such cute little birds.
    The grosbeak too is a very charming visitor.
    Wish I could rig up a pennyweight for our tiny feathered friends. I am concentrating on our littlest birds because I am a little wary as to the time allotted to me when I am still able to see as they move them against the foliage. Age has it's downside.

  34. It is so good to have another bird post to share here. I just LOVE this blog. you share such insightful information and the photos you take are stunning.

  35. Great bird shots and such an informative post. Your blog never disappoints. Wonderful images of the Wren, Grosbeak, Seagull complete with catch of the day... and of course your header is fantastic!!
    Thanks for hosting

  36. Oh yes, those little devil Wrens. I have a pair nesting not far from my kitchen window in an old gourd I forgot to clean out last winter. I'm now wondering what wicked ways they are up to.
    Love the grosbeaks. I have two pair, and just can't get enough pictures of that lovely rose breast. Raining here for the 3rd straight day. Can't get the grass mowed!
    I see your Prince is shining.. We welcome Andy Pettette back Sunday. Hope all works out well, and oh how we're going to miss Mo at least for this year!! Have a great rest of the week.

  37. Oh you always take such marvelous images and I always drool...well just about. They are so true to colour and look as if I could peek out a window and view them for real. Have a Happy remainder to your week~

  38. I haven`t seen the grosbeaks pass through here yet,maybe I missed them.
    Aren`t the wrens such fun to watch? They are such good housekeepers too once their little ones are born,cleaning out their little ones poo,carrying it away from their home.Thanks for hosting this every Wed.,it`s so much fun to see everyones photos & hear their stories,even though it takes me awhile to get through them all,have a great week!phyllis

  39. Hi there - the house wren look almost identical to the ones I grew up with - same genus, different species. I think gram for gram they must be one of the loudest birds in the world - they really belt it out!

    Great set of pictures - Stewart M - Australia

  40. That's pretty fascinating stuff! Maybe if we were all debating the fate of the house wren now-a-days instead of all the other things we argue about, we'd be better off. Fantastic shots of these beauties, and your grosbeak shot, with the maple keys included, is stunning.

  41. I'm so bummed I can't share my new bird post this week, the linky is closed. I guess I'll share it next week!