08.23.20: House Wren

A House Wren calls from a branch in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

A House Wren calls from a branch in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

Grabbing a photo of an active, vocal, small bird

If I see a wren fly from a branch, it is likely the bird will return to the same branch after a short time. If I’m patient, I may get the shot.  

Photographing birds is difficult. 

They are quick. They are unpredictable. They are extremely aware of their surroundings and tend to fly off when approached. And they definitely don’t take direction from photographers (“Okay, now turn your head this way …”).

But with wrens the degree of difficulty increases significantly. It’s the second most difficult type of bird for me to photograph. Wrens are very small, usually less than a half an ounce in weight and less than five inches from tip of beak to tip of tail. Their colors blend with their surroundings, providing natural camouflage. They are very active, flitting quickly from spot to spot like feathered perpetual motion machines. And they are very vocal. 

If it wasn’t for their loud, recognizable call I might never know a wren is nearby.

But after years of experience gained by watching wren behavior with little success photographing the birds I learned a trick that has greatly improved my success rate. Wrens, especially House Wrens like the one pictured above, tend to return to some of the same perches as they patrol their territory. If I see a wren fly from a branch, it is likely the bird will return to the same branch after a short time. If I’m patient, I may get the shot.  

House Wrens can be found in small trees or shrubs in open forests or near forest edges, bouncing from limb to limb looking for insects. 

I mentioned earlier that wrens were the second most difficult type of bird for me to photograph. They rank only behind kinglets, those tiny perpetual-motion machines that are sources of great photographic frustration for me. But one of these days …

Tech specs

  • Date/time: May 7, 2016, 11:14 a.m.
  • Location: 40°6'57.902" N 82°57'11.667" W (Show in Google Maps)
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II 
  • Lens: Canon EF 600mm f/4L, Canon 1.4x teleconverter (840mm)
  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • Shutter: 1/1250th second
  • ISO: 1000