Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Elusive Winter Wren

On Saturday, I went to the Montlake Fill and saw a lot of birds -- 32 species in a little over an hour.  The best sightings were in Yesler Cove, where there were Trumpeter Swans.

A Great Blue Heron was fluffing out its feathers:

As usual, Truman remained underwhelmed by the bird activity.

The best bird of the day, though, was a Pacific Wren -- which used to be a Winter Wren, though I'm pretty sure the bird is unaware of its name change.

Winter Wrens are tiny birds that hide in dense brush, and they are brownish all over, so even when they do occasionally pop up from a thicket, they can be hard to see.  They chatter incessantly, though, so it's pretty easy to tell when they're around.  When you are walking through the woods and you hear their chittering song, you stop and scan the brush and wait...and wait...and wait in the hope one will appear.

I've seen them, but I've never seen them.  You see, when I started birding in 2008, the Winter Wren was a bird seen all across North America.  They lived in the woods of Yesler Swamp at the Montlake Fill.  I'd seen a few there.  And then in 2010, the American Ornithologists' Union, which determines these things, decided to split the species into the Pacific Wren of western regions, and the Winter Wren of eastern areas.  So I had to change the name in my field guide and on my life list and try to remember that what I'd seen was a Pacific Wren instead.

Since I had not seen one east of the Rockies, I had no longer seen a Winter Wren.  It took me years to stop calling them Winter Wrens, but I'm finally getting used to it.

I also had never gotten a photo of one, since they rarely were in view for long. At Yesler Swamp on Saturday, I heard their songs all over the place.  So I waited and watched, and a cooperative Pacific (nee Winter) Wren popped onto the top of a bramble, singing away.  And for once, I managed to get a decent photo before it popped back down:

Look at that tiny tail!  Fabulous little bird.  Now I just need a photo of a Winter Wren...maybe Truman would like to go on a really long field trip some day!


  1. That's an adorable plump little birdie. It was worth the wait to get such a good photo of it. By the way, just think of all the birds you could see on a nice long drive with Truman . . . say to Cooperstown? Just a thought.