Birds – Carolina Wren

(Thryothorus ludovicianus)

Called also : MOCKING WREN

Length—6 inches. Just a trifle smaller than the English sparrow.

Male and Female—Chestnut-brown above. A whitish streak, beginning at base of bill, passes through the eye to the nape of the neck. Throat whitish. Under parts light buff-brown. Wings and tail finely barred with dark.

Range—United States, from Gulf to northern Illinois and southern New England.

Migrations—A common resident except at northern boundary of range, where it is a summer visitor.

This largest of the wrens appears to be the embodiment of the entire family characteristics : it is exceedingly active, nervous, and easily excited, quick-tempered, full of curiosity, peeping into every hole and corner it passes, short of flight as it is of wing, inseparable from its mate till parted by death, and a gushing lyrical songster that only death itself can silence. It also has the wren-like preference for a nest that is roofed over, but not too near the homes of men.

Undergrowths near water, brush heaps, rocky bits of wood-land, are favorite resorts. The Carolina wren decidedly objects to being stared at, and likes to dart out of sight in the midst of the underbrush in a twinkling while the opera-glasses are being focussed.

To let off some of his superfluous vivacity, Nature has provided him with two safety-valves : one is his voice, another is his tail. With the latter he gesticulates in a manner so expressive that it seems to be a certain index to what is passing in his busy little brain—drooping it, after the habit of the catbird, when he becomes limp with the emotion of his love-song, or holding it erect as, alert and inquisitive, he peers at the impudent intruder in the thicket below his perch.

But it is his joyous, melodious, bubbling song that is his chief fascination. He has so great a variety of strains that many people have thought that he learned them from other birds, and so have called him what many ornithologists declare that he is not—a mocking wren. And he is one of the few birds that sing at night—not in his sleep or only by moonlight, but even in the total darkness, just before dawn, he gives us the same wide-awake song that entrances us by day.