In an ongoing effort to learn more about the birds and wildlife in the Northwest I am going to feature a different bird here every Friday. Doing a little research will help me learn my ID’s and writing about it will help me remember. If you check in here on the weekend, you can learn right along with me !
I’ll start with the Bewick’s wren (pronounced like “Buicks”). It may be no secret to some of you that this is one of my favorite birds. They are energetic, nimble and acrobatic little insect-foragers. Gray on the top, white and soft gray on the bottom, they sport a signature long, white eyebrow. They are striking to see against a background that shows off their subtle coloring, but have proved difficult for me to capture in photos. (They are too fast for these eyes)
Their tails are long, barred and tipped in white. Their beaks are slender and curved slightly downward. Their song is loud and melodious especially during breeding season and when defending the nest. Mostly it is the male you will hear singing. The females have a rather loud, harsh call when scolding or sounding an alarm, but largely spend their time foraging for insects and building the nest. (Yep, the females put their heads down and get the work done)
The males will often build several “dummy nests” and fiercely defend the one chosen by the female to incubate her eggs. The incubation period only lasts about 14 days and both parents feed the nestlings. The young leave the nest about two weeks after hatching.
Naturalist and painter John James Audubon (namesake of the Audubon Society) gave this tiny little wren it’s name as a nod to his friend and fellow artist, Thomas Bewick. Bewick was known for his detailed wood engravings (and printmaking) as well as his illustrations for the History of British Birds published in 1797.
While their decline in the East is notable (thought to be a combination of pesticide use, dwindling habitat and competition from similar species) their status in the West is on the list of “least concern”.
There are some great photos (and a lot more info) to be found on the various birding sites and pages on the internet. The photos shared here are my own (with one exception noted below) from one of hundreds of walks in the Pacific Northwest. They are quick and I am still learning the best technique to capture them. Practice, practice, practice.
ID’s on these little wrens can be tricky. Below are two marsh wrens with similar features (barred tail and narrow, downward curved beak) but notably different coloring and markings on both backs and wings. These photos show a few of the subtle differences.
Fun fact: A gathering of wrens ( which in itself is rather rare) is called a “chime”. I kinda love that ❤
With permission, I am sharing a really beautiful photo of a Bewick’s wren taken by photographer Fei Cheng. You can see some of Fei’s other beautiful photos on the Washington Birders and Pacific NW Birders pages on Facebook. Thank you, Fei.