Cock of the Walk

By , August 21, 2014

The winter wren is one of our friendliest and most steadfast songbird neighbors here on the “homestead.” These tiny birds reside here year ’round. One or more seem to live under the cabin; we see them zipping around the property, usually very close to the ground, or hear their outsized song around the yard. They’re very unconcerned about our presence, and often forage quite close to us as we go about our business. Because they’re so small and brown, and because they fly so close to the ground, we sometimes mistake them for mice or voles.

"The wren, the wren, the king of all birds!" (Photo: Sarah A. Zeiger).

“The wren, the wren, the king of all birds!” (Photo: Sarah A. Zeiger).

One day, Aly and I sat for a while on the veranda. A winter wren landed on a nearby log, and began to posture—I can think of no better word to describe it. It struck a puffy-breasted pose in one direction, hopped and turned to strike the same pose facing the opposite direction, then switched back and forth several times in quick succession. We watched, dumbfounded, then Aly snapped a couple of photos.

There’s no telling what motivated this behavior, if anything, but we found it very hard not to anthropomorphize it as a happy, self-satisfied, boastful celebration of self. This seems entirely in keeping with this tiny bird’s attitude toward life!

Winter Wren no longer! See What’s In a Name?

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