Acrobatic wrens

Marsh Wrens, as their name implies, usually hang out in damp, marshy places, gobbling up insects, spiders, and small snails as they maneuver through the cattails and reeds. However, I found a male Marsh Wren singing loudly from the tops of Big Bluestem grasses on a hill-top prairie, and admired his ability to cling to the floppy grass stems while broadcasting his song of loud, shrill twangy notes.

A very atypical habitat for a marsh wren -- and Big Bluestem really doesn't have the vertical support that a nice fat cattail does.

A very atypical habitat for a marsh wren — and Big Bluestem really doesn’t have the vertical support that a nice fat cattail does.

snail lake marsh prairie

Atypical habitat for a Marsh Wren.  Perhaps he was advertising for new mates.

Marsh Wrens are not melodious singers like the House Wren and Winter Wren. Their song sounds to me more like the string of a bass guitar vibrating.

marsh wren

I tried to sneak around to the front of this guy, but he kept turning around on his precarious perch to sing with his back to me.

marsh wren

He has a dark cap and a white eyebrow, but otherwise looks like a House Wren with heavily barred feathers on its back and tail, which points up — wrenlike.

Marsh Wrens males are flirty guys, and may attract a number of females as mates. Each female builds her own nest, incubates her eggs, and feeds her chicks.  The male secures the territory for these multiple households, and builds several dummy nests, which he might use for roosting, but probably are also useful to confuse nest predators.

These birds are somewhat secretive and difficult to see in their typical aquatic environment, but the males do climb to the tops of the tallest plants to proclaim their territory, and often end up straddling two stems in a very acrobatic fashion.

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus_palustris

He might end up doing the splits, as his weight separates the two stalks to which he clings. Photo from Wikipedia

3 thoughts on “Acrobatic wrens

  1. Love that last photo. I don’t see Marsh Wrens very often. House Wrens are abundant here, with a fair amount of Carolina Wrens too, and make themselves heard all day long.

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