San Diego, California


Bewick's Wren Nesting in Our Backyard

Photo of a Bewick's Wren

Bringing a grub to her babies

Bewick's Wren (Thryomanes bewickii correctus) - I initially thought that this bird was a flycatcher of some sort, becasue it was feeding oninsects. However, I couldn't match it one to the photos on bird reference websites. Taking another tack on it I checked The San Diego Museum of Natural History website for birds common to San Diego. Using their list I searched for small birds other than flycatchers which lead me to the Bewick's Wren.

Photo of a bewick's wren flying

Flying in with an insect for her babies

I had noticed the bird feeding in the garden flitting around the planters, rocks, and bricks, but didn’t get interested until it built a nest in the patio area. The nest is in a wall mounted planter that holds some artificial plants, it is just above the BBQ grill. A few weeks ago I watched her bring in feathers, twigs, and other building materials. Last week I noticed her bringing insects into the nest so I knew she had some babies in there.

Photo of a bewick's wren flying, wings outstretched

Leaving the nest to get her babies some more food

I took some photos hand holding the camera, but it was hard to get sharp images as the she doesn’t sit still very long and she moves fast. I then set the camera on a tripod fairly close to the nest and then got better photos. To get the shots without spooking the wren I controlled the camera remotely via a 16’ USB cable to my MacBook Pro. The camera I used was a Canon T1i, using both telephoto and standard lens; I used Canon’s EOS Utility software to remotely control the camera

Photo of a bewick's wren glaring at the camera

Glaring at the camera

Watch a short video of one of the parents bring food to the nest
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In this video I had the camera mounted 18” directly above the nest and looking straight down into it. Unfortunately the nest is too deep inside the planter to see the babies. Please excuse the quality of this video, I used a USB webcam which doesn’t take hires images and the color temperature of the video is warmer than the real scene. As with the still photos I used a 16” USB cable, but in this case I controlled it using QuickTime Pro.

Listen to the baby birds crying for food

Empty birdnest

The babies have grown up enough to leave the nest

The birds nest was right outside the kitchen window and we watched her build it. I was surprised to see her bring some much of the polyester fibers, I would think that she would want to use natural materials and indeed some of it was. However, she did build it in a wall mounted planter full of artificial plants so maybe this is a ‘70s bird. Anyway we enjoyed watching both parents bring food to the baby birds, they were quite dedicated. I think that there was at least two babies in there, this breed lays multiple eggs.

This incident has prompted me to build a couple of birdhouses designed specifically for this breed. The Bewick’s Wren is an insect eater and a real useful bird to have around the garden.

Links to websites about the Bewick's Wren:

Cornell Lab of Orthinology


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