The Carolina wren, one of my favorite birds, visits the backyard regularly. If it doesn’t show up, I entice it with a bit of flute playing in the right key – Am or Bb or high D. Within five minutes of playing, I am charmed by the Native American flute music and the wren, who was singing faraway, has now landed on the backyard fence for a more engaging duet. It usually works like this: I play a phrase on the flute. It listens with its head to one side. When I am done it sings, in no shy manner, a phrase and then stops and looks at me.
At a simple level, I love the wren because it brings music. The wren has a range of voices from the loud boisterous call to the little happy voice that chatters away to itself while doing some mundane task like examining the house gutters for insects. The chattering itself is very musical.
A few years ago, I recorded my half of the song (accompanying Ukulele Sunnyboy) on a Native American style Dm PVC flute (one of the early ones I had built). In recording outside, I attracted a Carolina wren. You can hear it paces itself quite nicely with the music — and we hadn’t even practiced!
On a symbolic level, there are a range of tales about the wren about who can fly highest, or be the cleverest in attempting to do so. Its voice exudes such earnestness that we attribute a highly competitive nature to the bird who strives to outwit and outfly the other birds.
While there is much to be found in books and on the Internet regarding the symbolism of the wren, I have set aside looking for too much symbolism after studying literary symbolism much of my life. It’s hard to believe the wren to be too smart when it builds its nest in very impractical places. One spring, baby wrens had hatched apparently in a nest in the eaves trough above the front door of the house. For two days they chattered almost non-stop. On the third day I returned, after being away all day, to silence. There had been a big storm and of course the great gushing waters from the roof had washed through the eaves trough.
And so I return to the wren’s biggest asset: its voice. The voice of anything represents its perspective and acts as a reminder about our own perspectives. Every spirit needs a song, but in days of stress not every spirit has found its song. Finding a song, preferably ‘your’ song is essential to dealing with stress and the ‘slings and arrows’ of life. To me, the wren is the iconic reminder of the necessity to sing — figuratively, or with flutes, if not literally. That is why, with the help of artist Orchid Davis, (Thank you, Orchid) I have the wren as the icon for my site.
Yesterday, the fledgling wren appeared in the backyard. She is only a few days ahead of the house finch in that she is able to feed herself. But she is learning to sing very well indeed!
- September’s young birds: Fledgling House Finch (judyrobinsondesigns.com)
- The Wee Wren (janepetersonwomanofacertainage.wordpress.com)
- Carolina wren (http://www.wbu.com/chipperwoods/photos/carowren.htm)