Bird of the Week



Photo courtesy Byron Greco

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the Bewick’s wren.

Although this is a bird common to the western United States, it is less familiar in our area than the related house wren. Once widely distributed across the country, it is now rarely seen east of the Mississippi River. This decline in the east has paralleled the expansion of the range of the house wren, with whom it competes for nesting areas.

Bewick’s wrens are cavity nesters, building nests in any type of cavity both natural and man-made. They will occupy old woodpecker holes, rock crevices, nest boxes, holes in buildings and even mailboxes. Adults have been observed to puncture the eggs of birds nesting nearby, but they also suffer from this competition strategy when it is employed by house wrens.

Males defend territories year-round by singing melodious songs. Within the first months of life, a young male learns the songs of neighboring birds and tweaks them to make his own unique repertoire.

Bewick’s wrens are small birds with brown backs and whitish undersides. Their long tails, barred with black and with white spots on the tips, are often held upright and wagged side to side. A long white stripe over the eyes is a distinguishing characteristic.

These birds are most often found in brushy areas in open country. Here they forage actively in shrubs and on the ground for eggs, larvae, pupae and adult insects, and other small invertebrates. When insects are scarce, they add seeds and fruits to their diet.

A lack of food will cause them to retreat from our region for the winter.

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