The 12 days of (a wildlife) Christmas – 3 Eurasian wrens

©Stewart McDonald

For day 3 of our 12 days of (a wildlife) Christmas we’ve swapped 3 French hens for 3 Eurasian wrens and we’ll be on the lookout for these charming little birds in the rural lanes around our head office in Ashbocking.

As a lunch break challenge, I headed out down the lanes of Ashbocking, a village not too far from Ipswich in the search for wrens. It is believed by some naturalists that you should never go out in search for a specific species (I personally like a challenge) but of course by breaking this ‘rule’ I had set myself up for a fall… the wrens kept themselves well hidden from me today!

Preferring low lying dense undergrowth, Britain’s third smallest bird species being beaten only by the goldcrest and firecrest, makes up for its small size with an impressively large call. Often it is the wren’s call that is heard than rather than spotting the bird itself.  You can hear a wren’s call here

Winter can be a difficult time for all birds, but the wren’s small size and insectivorous diet adds further additional challenges for this tiny bird and populations can often face declines particularly after cold periods. They will defend and maintain their territories fiercely over winter to help increase the chance of finding food to eat. However, wrens show a certain amount of comradery in the evenings in winter where several individuals can be found roosting together. After sunset, a male who hosts the roost in his territory will make short flights in and out of the roost and attracting other individuals by calling to them and inviting them in. Roosting together helps maintain body temperatures and is beneficial for all, however it is important that the wrens don’t outstay their welcome. Before dawn, wrens will leave the roost to go back to their own territories to defend them during the daylight hours.

Whilst keeping your bird feeders topped up will help a variety of different bird species, the wren needs a little helping hand over the winter in other ways. By providing hedgerows, dense shrubs and undergrowth which will host a variety of invertebrate species, helps provide not only a vital food source, but also a potential nesting site.

You never know, your garden might just host a wren roost and be a hub of activity this time of year and you might not know it! Listen out for the inviting call of the male to other to join in his roost!