This time of the year, a friendly addition to the birds that arrive each evening when I put out the food, is the Carolina Wren,
Of all the birds that come, these little guys are the most energetic and adventurous, flitting in and out of the feeding area even when I am close enough to intimidate some of the others.
I watched some of them yesterday at feeding time as they picked up bits of the bread. While the Blue Jays and Cardinals flew in, grabbed a full piece of bread and flew off to eat it in the trees, the wrens hung around on the ground and picked pieces off the cut bread, eating it where they stood.
Then one of them even wandered over to where the possum and raccoon food was and helped himself to some of the cheesy cat food mix that I had put out in bowls.
I managed to get a number of shots as they kept one eye on me and one on the prize and I only left when I feared I might attract the cats to what was going on.
They are at the end of this blog … hope you enjoy!
Growing up in Ireland, I was quite familiar with the wrens. There was the childhood story told to us all of how the wren, through his ingenuity became the king of the birds. And of course, there was wren-day which was the day after Christmas when the Wren Boys went from door to door singing tales of the King of the Birds, dressed in old rags, dirt on our faces, and begging for money.
I had to look it up for the full words (my memory isn’t what it used to be) but here is the song we would sing:
The wren the wren the king of all birds,
St Stephen’s Day was caught in the furze.
Her clothes were all torn, her shoes were all worn
Up with the kettle and down with the pan.
Give us a penny to bury the wren,
If you haven’t a penny, a halfpenny will do
If you haven’t a halfpenny,
God Bless you!
I doubt if I was more than ten the last time I went out singing that and I am sure the tradition has long since faded but it brought a smile to my face yesterday when I remembered it.
Which actually brings me to the idea behind this blog. In many ways the wren is seen as one of the least significant of birds and yet, the symbolism attached to him is far larger than his physical self.
They are seen as the harbinger of spring and rebirth and their many qualities can inspire us to become better and happier versions of ourselves.
To a casual observer their coloring and size can make them appear less significant but their ingenuity, sociability, cheerfulness, and contentment serve as wonderful reminders to us when we question our own insignificance.
Perhaps you believe that birds’ faces are emotionless but I don’t. I can see when a bird is happy or fearful, upset or calm.
I recall a couple of years back when a lovely little wren landed on my arm and spoke to me for a short while before hopping off again and continuing about his business (even got a video of that one with my phone).
There is an inner peace that comes from humility and you can see their simple contentment, if you take the time to look.
Meanwhile, we drive ourselves, our parents drive us, work drives us, society drives us … the forces on us always seek to make us look for more.
These are forces which don’t just drive us forward but they create a sense of dissatisfaction with what we have and where we are. So, we lose our feeling of contentment and nothing ever seems enough.
You will see it in yourself, family and friends, neighbors .. .everyone running around aiming for higher and better as if we are all engaged in some kind of competition.
Even the ultra wealthy and ultra powerful crave more to where their present wealth and power are insufficient for their own feeling of contentment.
There is no end to that kind of game. Only death brings the escape from it and even then we are often guilted at the end for not having done enough.
There is a life within us and around us that holds all the moments, the loves, the joys, and we need to recognize them as they happen; not crave more.
There is an old Irish saying that a wren in the hand is better than a crane out of it. Meaning we should celebrate each moment, each small win, instead of always chasing after something bigger.
Native Americans used the wren to symbolize something very similar. They looked at the arrival of wrens into your life, particularly when sad and depressed, as a reminder to find happiness even in the smallest of things. In so doing, it can take root and grow into true peace and contentment.
Find a wren and let his peace and happiness warm your self and if you can’t find one, then become one. Happiness doesn’t come from our brightly colored feathers and loud songs. It comes from our inner peace and the ability to feel the value of each moment we live.
… just a thought.