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( Originally Published 1894 )
THE COMMON WREN
The Common Wren is indigenous to Great Britain. It builds its nest under the shelter of thatched eaves, in out-of-the-way and unusual places. It is a plain homely looking little bird of a pale chestnut brown colour. Captain Brown gives the following interesting description of a wren's music lesson.
A pair of wrens, " says Captain Brown, " built Music their nest in a box, so situated that the family on the grounds had an opportunity of observing the mother's care in instructing her young ones to sing. She seated herself on one side of the opening of the box, facing her young, and commenced by singing over all her notes very slowly and distinctly. One of the little ones then attempted to imitate her. After chirping rather inharmoniously a few notes, its pipe failed, and it went off the tune. The mother immediately took up the tune where the young one had failed, and distinctly finished the remaining part. The young one made a second attempt, commencing where it had left off, and continuing for a few notes with tolerable distinctness, when it again lost the notes; the mother began again where it ceased, and went through with the air. The young one again resumed the tune and completed it. When this was done, the mother again sung over the whole of her song with great precision; and then another of the young attempted to follow it, who likewise was incapable of going through with the tune, but the parent treated it as she had done the first bird; and so on with the third and fourth. It sometimes happened that the little one would lose the tune, even three or four times in making the attempt; in which case the mother uniformly commenced where it had ceased, and always sung to the end of the tune; and when each had completed the trial, she always sung over the whole song. Sometimes two of them commenced the strain together, in which case she pursued the same conduct towards them, as she had done when one sung. This was repeated at intervals every day, while they remained in their nest."
THE HOUSE WREN
The American House Wren is described by Audubon as a cheery familiar little bird, resembling the common wren in many of his habits, if not indeed identical with it.
Wilson says, "in the month of June a mower hung up his coat, under a shed, near the barn, and two or three days elapsed before he had occasion to put it on again, when thrusting his arm up the sleeve, he found it completely filled with some rubbish, as he called it, and on extracting the whole mass, found it to be the nest of a wren completely finished, and lined with a large quantity of feathers. In his retreat, he was followed by the forlorn little proprietors, who scolded him with great vehemence for thus ruining the whole economy of their household affairs." Wilson also tells a very pretty story of a pair of wrens who built their nest upon a window sill, one of whom, the female, venturing to enter the room was devoured by a cat. The male bird showed much uneasiness when he missed his mate, but after a time disappeared for two days, returning with a new wife, and with her help removing the two eggs left by her predecessor to a new nest in a more secure position.