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Sunday, February 12, 2012

The little bird with the large repertoire

John James Audubon named Bewick's Wren (Thryomanes bewickii) after his friend and British engraver, Thomas Bewick.  This wren occurs in both shrubland and dune habitat on Bodega Head.  Note the conspicuous white eye line and long tail.

Although relatively small, (Bewick's Wrens are ~13 cm long) wrens are known for their loud songs.  I still have some trouble identifying Bewick's Wrens by song, and now I know why.  Each individual male has a large vocal repertoire and sings between 9-22 different songs!  This variability is impressive and makes field identification by sound a bit challenging.  

Below, this is the same male singing from two different positions (photographed 11 February 2012).

Below, the wren found a caterpillar in the willows by Campbell Cove/Hole-in-the-Head.

To hear examples of Bewick's Wren songs, visit the Macaulay Library and search by species.

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