top of page

Carolina Wrens | Shared Moments

I really couldn’t ignore them: the sounds of a Wren chirping in the early morning. Sometimes it was two Wrens. After a few days, and finally noticing that there was this daily morning call, I stepped to the window to look. There on the brush pile next to the house was a Carolina Wren, singing at a volume much greater than its small size. It was sometime in September, if I recall correctly.

The brush pile had been gathered there so we would have dry kindling for our nightly winter fires. But though cooler weather now approached, that idea for the brush pile ceased. Clearly this was either where the Wrens slept during the night, or at least it was where they went for their morning song.

It became a greeting, that song…a call to the day. Soon it also became a fascination as I started observing that the Wrens’ songs were at slightly later times each day. I learned that many birds start singing at civil twilight. Civil twilight, according to, is that time just before the sun reaches the horizon (sunrise). According to the website, the geometric disk of the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon.

So it was each day. I’d hear the Wrens’ song and look out the studio or kitchen window, watching how they sang and preened themselves, fluttered their feathers and sang some more. Occasionally they would show up on the brush pile during the day and I would watch them as I washed dishes.

Then the winter solstice came and went, and their songs began incrementally earlier over time. The Wrens sang, I looked, I watched, and they became part of my day and an ever-present delight. They were Wrens – my favorite birds – and they’d chosen to enter into this little corner of the world where I also happen to be. They lived out their daily lives and they enriched mine.

Now as I write, it is March. To say that I was deep-level excited when, last week, I observed a pair of Carolina Wrens building a nest in a birdhouse in our backyard would be a vast understatement. To say that my curiosity was peeked about whether or not it’s the same pair goes without saying. To say that my delight soared in watching them build the nest, and in a bird house I’d purchased to mark the time when our own three children had fledged, would be mere words to a feeling in my soul that I can’t explain.

And so, I picked up my camera, slid the long lens around the edge of a Maple as I hid behind the tree’s broad weathered trunk, and photographed. I watched as the pair of Wrens perched on the fence, bits of dried leaves in their beaks. I chuckled in seeing the tenacity of one of the pair try to navigate flight with a dried leaf that was too long for the maneuver. I stood amazed at seeing how they stood at one of the birdhouse entrances, beak full of brush, and entered into their new home. I wondered (and always will) at how birds can make nests with a beak. I remain intrigued at thinking about what various things those Wrens gathered to make their nest, and what, in the species’ seemingly haphazard way of constructing a nest, the final version looks like. I know, though, that whatever it looks like, the nest is cozy.

As I write, I haven’t seen any activity at the birdhouse for a couple of days. Of course, I can’t stand at the window all day looking (but that isn’t to say the thought hasn’t occurred to me). Did they build another nest? If so, where? Will they return to this one? Or is it just that I haven’t seen them when I happened to be looking?

I do not know. But if they return, I will stand at a distance and watch through the window, and maybe even capture a few more moments through my lens. For now, though, I am thankful for the privilege of having heard the songs and witnessed the moments that filled their days…and mine.

. . .

I originally wrote a little about the morning song of the Carolina Wrens in December 2021, in a weekly email called A Closer Look. This Saturday email is simply one of my photos and a short bit of original writing (much shorter than this blog entry). It’s a quiet way to start the weekend and be encouraged to see the intricacies in nature that are all around you. To subscribe (it’s free), please fill in the form near the bottom of the Contact/Subscribe form on my website:

91 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page