A little bird with a big appetite

A wren checks every nook and cranny for food
A wren checks every nook and cranny for food

Pictured is a wren in one of my “Cairncams”.

These are simply wee stone igloos built over a camera trap fitted with a close-up lens. Main visitors are mice, voles and shrews.

However, there are often surprises such as weasels and young rabbits.

Of course, there are insects too and that can be a problem.

Spiders, in particular, like to build webs in my cairns, often resulting in visiting mammals being photographed through the mesh of an out-of-focus web!

This is why I am always pleased to see wrens visiting.

Photographs show these tiny birds systematically hunting every nook, cranny and crevice for hiding spiders. Spider webs are noticeably absent after wren visits.

This is all hardly surprising as the wren’s scientific name is troglodytes, meaning cave dweller. Wrens do not mind dark or enclosed spaces.

In fact, be careful if setting a mouse trap in a shed, garage or outhouse as wrens will freely enter and hunt in all three.

Take a few minutes to cover the trap to exclude wrens (and robins which share the habit).

Both birds will also readily nest in such situations.

I even recall a cooperage, a noisy environment for any bird, where a pair of robins nested in a hard hat.

The hat was one of several in a row of day-glow jackets, each hanging on pegs and topped by a hard hat.

The coopers had erected a sign to ensure no one disturbed the birds until their young had fledged and flown.

Wren nests are a common find as the male may build several nests before he can interest a female in one of them.

Considering all the effort that must take, it’s no wonder they always hunt my cairn-loving spiders with such determination!

By George Hogg