Wren vs. Chickdee: Who’s Mo’ Badass?

The housing shortage in Corvallis has apparently extended to the bird kingdom.

A wren and a pair of chickadees have been engaged in loud, continuous squabbles over a nesting hole in the fence behind building two. Wren makes the most noise, so you could say the wren is in the catbird seat. The chickadee does the most bullying, chasing the wren around the area. The early morning air is filled with “chickadee-dee-dee-dee,” followed by various wren warbles and buzzes – on repeat. Over and over. (Of note, the more dee-dee-dees at the end of the chickadee call, the greater the threat.)

By the end of the day, wren is still singing, and chickadee appears worn out. He sits on the wire fence under the nest hole, feathers all plumped out – looking bigger, badder, and appearing to scowl through that low-slung black cap. Chickadee has a partner who sometimes goes into the nest hole during the chases, and sits looking out – making it clear who inhabits this hole. Wren then sits on the wire fence beneath the hole, body flicking furiously

Nest hole started several years ago by a downy woodpecker.

Today it looked like a little brown bird went into the hole during a chase and disappeared. So, wren might just have a partner, this still needs verification.

Last year, he sang for almost 3 weeks, and just when it seemed that all was lost, a partner appeared and cleaned up the awkward nest he had built for her. They had a successful fledge.

To hear wren songs and scoldings: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/House_Wren/sounds

To hear black capped chickadee sounds: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Black-capped_Chickadee/sounds

Who has claim on this nest hole?

It was started several years ago by a downy woodpecker, who never completed it. It was finished by a couple of chickadees, who busily deposited sawdust all over the nearby planting beds, but they never nested in it. Last year a wren came and set up house in the hole. So, while the architecture is distinctly chickadee, wrens do have a precedent for living in this hole.

So, who's mo' badass? Wrens are aggressive and destroy the eggs and young of nest box competition. While it is a little late this spring, perhaps it's time to do something about the bird housing shortage at Coho.

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