Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pacific Wren

Pacific WrenPacific Wren amid sword ferns, Beaverton, Oregon on 17 April 2012 by Greg Gillson

How many of these little tykes must there be? They are found throughout the year in damp, dark forests of the Pacific Northwest. You can spot these tiny sprites crawling through the undergrowth and calling "kip-kip" to give away their presence. But in spring when they sing? Oh my!

First of all they have a loud, musical, high-pitched, rapid, cascading and tumbling and twinkling song, lasting 12 seconds or more. Secondly, they are THICK in wet forests, especially west of the Cascade summit. On this day, April 17, 2012, I spent over 3 hours and walked about 5 miles of trails around the Tualatin Hills Nature Park in Beaverton. There are no hills in the Tualatin Hills Nature Park, but there are Pacific Wrens! In fact I counted 72 birds, primarily singing males! Here is my eBird checklist for that day.

Oh, and remember, Pacific Wrens were split from Winter Wren in 2010, so they may still be in your field guide as Winter Wren. The former Winter Wren was spit into Eurasian Wren, Winter Wren, and Pacific Wren. Even though they look very much alike, the Winter Wren has a different call than the Pacific Wren, the songs are a bit different, and they don't breed together where their range meets in northern BC and Alberta. The eastern Winter Wren migrates, the western Pacific Wren really doesn't, though there are some downslope movements in winter. (Map of ranges provided by David Sibley.)

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