House Wren

April 27th, 2020: And the migrants keep pouring in…

Things are still picking up at QE Park. I was there again today (big surprise) and managed to relocate a House Wren that had been seen briefly the day before.

It was a beautiful day at QE Park!
It was a beautiful day at QE Park!

It sang for me from the bushes and never made an appearance. And it only sang twice, so I couldn’t even get a recording. Oh well. I got pretty used to these guys out in Minnesota over the past couple of years. In MN, they easily outnumber the other wrens. In Vancouver, they’re rare.

A House Wren singing in Minnesota
A House Wren singing in Minnesota

Our most common wren, and a year-round vocalizer, is the Pacific Wren. But we also have Bewick’s and Marsh Wrens, who make themselves known in the spring. Wrens sure can sing. While our Pacific Wrens have the longest song around, the Marsh and Bewick’s still belt out their shorter songs. All of these birds can be heard easily from quite a distance, as their effusive, energetic, chattering songs emanate from Pacific coast forest (Pacific Wren), marsh (Marsh Wren), or woodland/suburban areas (Bewick’s). I’ve added images and audio of these three wrens in typical habitats below.

Pacific Wren
Pacific Wren
Pacific Wren song (from xeno-canto)
Marsh Wren
Marsh Wren
Marsh Wren song (from xeno-canto)
Bewick's Wren
Bewick’s Wren
Bewick’s Wren song; might be confused with Song Sparrow, but to my ears the wren has a harsher, more metallic timbre (from xeno-canto)

And here’s some House Wren audio so you can hear they belong to the family…

House Wren song; shorter like Bewick’s, but harsher like Marsh Wren (from xeno-canto)
A House Wren duel in Kingston, ON
A House Wren duel in Kingston, ON

And check out the Nightingale Wren below, which I once heard in Costa Rica. They’re known as one of the best singers in the world.

The incessant and wonderfully atonal Northern Nightingale-Wren song: eat your heart out Schoenberg (from xeno-canto)

House Wrens really seem to be comfy anywhere. I remember seeing them all over the place in Minnesota, not localized to one habitat and happy just about anywhere there’s a brush pile. They nest in tree holes and nest boxes, but often have trouble with mites and parasites eating the nestlings. So they actually add spider egg sacs to their nest materials to combat this! That’s a pretty badass solution. House Wrens also have a massive range, breeding from Canada to the southern tip of South America!

I couldn't resist throwing in this old photo of a Band-backed Wren from Costa Rica (won't be seeing any of them in Vancouver)
I couldn’t resist throwing in this old photo of a Band-backed Wren from Costa Rica (won’t be seeing any of them in Vancouver)

I sure was happy to relocate the House Wren at QE. But that’s far from all that was there today.

A male Ring-necked Duck actually showing it's ringed neck!
A male Ring-necked Duck actually showing it’s deep maroon ringed neck!

I observed a whopping 39 species in the park today: rather a lot for April. Some of the highlights were Snow Goose (flyover), Hammond’s Flycatcher, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Hutton’s Vireo, tons of Ruby-crowned Kinglet (almost all male in this first migrant wave), Varied Thrush, Savannah Sparrow, Nashville Warbler, and Black-throated Gray Warbler (eBird list).

This incredibly cooperative Hutton’s Vireo actually perched up and sang for me!

There’s also some exciting nest building going on now!

A Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) clearing out its nest hole

And it’s not just birds in the park either…

Painted Turtle at QE Park (introduced)
Painted Turtle at QE Park (introduced)

I wonder what tomorrow will turn up?!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. melissa

    good for you this house wren that ilya and i found was very skulky and few people could relocate it so kudos nice shots and blog as usual

    1. Jim Palmer

      Yeah, it was a stubborn bird. Liron found another one nearby a few days later. We need to get more people onto their calls/song. I wonder if they’re getting passed over by many birders. It would be good to know how common they’re getting…

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