Bird’s eye view: Family of wrens adopts bird watchers

Mother and daughter in Iola enjoy watching birds on their patio. A friendly family of wrens settled in a hanging flower basket.



June 30, 2021 - 10:22 AM

An adult wren perches on a patio chair before visiting its nest at the home of Jean Barber and Brenda Bumgardner. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

Jean Barber and her daughter, Brenda Bumgardner, enjoy sitting on their back patio and watching the birds that visit the multitude of flowers, plants, bird feeders and bird baths.

The birds don’t seem to mind having them around, and will walk just feet from them.

One pair of wrens, in fact, got so comfortable around the women, they decided to raise a family with them.

A nest of baby wrens was built in a hanging flower basket.Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

The wrens built a nest inside a hanging flower basket.

Over the past couple of months, Bumgardner and Barber have watched the family grow. They saw eggs in the nest. Then the baby birds hatched. They try to leave the nest alone, so they don’t know just how many birds they have. 

They learned to recognize the mom and dad as they return to feed the babies.

If the women were out on the patio during feeding time, the parent bird would land nearby and wait for them to leave. If they didn’t vacate the patio, the bird would start scolding them.

“They’re just so trusting,” Barber said. “I think you can learn so much from nature.”

An adult wren, upper left, watches for threats before visiting its nest inside a hanging flower basket.Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

“We’re both nature lovers. We’re outdoors all the time,” Brenda added. “It’s astonishing what you can learn, even just from watching birds.”

For example, Bumgardner recently saw a pair of cardinals land on one of the bird baths. One bird stood guard while the other took a bath. Then, they switched roles.

They also learned different types of seed will attract different critters to their yard. They discover safflower seed, rather than other types of bird seed, doesn’t seem to appeal to squirrels and destructive starlings. 

The women use a book to identify the birds that visit. They believe the wrens are Bewick’s wrens. Kansas is on the northern edge of their territory.

Bewick’s wrens form monogamous pairs that tend to forage together.