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Every week there are new marvels to look for in the outdoors, and Discover Nature highlights these attractions. The Missouri Department of Conservation’s Josh Hartwig brings us the stories of river otters, luna moths, red buds, and other actors as they take center stage in nature’s theater.You can hear Discover Nature, Mondays at 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m.

Discover Nature: Missouri Wrens

Missouri Department of Conservation

Discover nature this week with Missouri wrens. Wrens are among the smallest songbirds, yet they make their presence known in a big way. They are both loud and persistent singers.

Birds use song, in part, to announce their breeding territories. House wrens aggressively defend their territories, often driving away much larger birds, and even mammals! Wrens are energetic brown birds, smaller than sparrows, with slender, slightly curved beaks. Wrens pose with their tails cocked in an upright position. This distinctive posture makes them easy to identify.

The most common backyard wren is the house wren. Its voice is a bubbling, gurgling song, rising in a musical burst, and falling at the end. The melodious song is familiar around many homes and gardens. The house wren’s more southern cousin, the Carolina wren, is also common in some neighborhoods.

You can attract wrens to backyard birdhouses, but they sometimes seem to prefer unusual places to build nests. Wrens have been found nesting in old coffee cans, baskets, hats, shoes, and even in the pocket of a pair of overalls hanging on a line.

You can even place a wren house near your garden for natural control of many garden insect pests. If you’ve ever wanted to build your own wren house, here’s a few quick tips:

·         This house may be top-mounted, back-mounted or hung from a limb or porch. If it is to be back-mounted on a post or tree, the back should be 8 inches long–or you can nail a longer board to the back later to provide for back-mounting.

·         As a substitute for eye screws, you can drill holes through the opposite edges of the roof boards and tie your wire there. Fasten the bottom in place with screws so that it can be removed to clean the box. The sides that fit under the roof can be beveled, but this is not necessary. A square cut works just as well. The 1 1/8-inch hole will keep out sparrows and larger birds.

More information about wrens in Missouri and instructions for building your own wren house from scratch can be found online at MissouriConservation.org.

Josh Hartwig is the host of Discover Nature and a media specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation.
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