About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

What Bird Wears Striped Underpants?

We had a new bird in the yard. It was similar to a House Wren but smaller. It was little and dark brown and stayed close to the ground at the edge of my pond and had very short tail feathers. Could it be a baby wren?

I think you were lucky enough to spot a Winter Wren passing through on its way to its wintering grounds. Winter Wrens (Troglodytes troglodytes) breed in the upper part of Michigan and also further into southern Canada’s boreal forests. They spend the winter in the states below Michigan. So in the Lansing area you might see a Winter Wren passing through your yard from October to early November and again in April to early May.

Winter Wrens are differentiated from House Wrens by a much stubbier tail, light line over the eye, and dark heavily barred underpants (or undertail coverts and leg feathers).

They are quite small, barely tipping the scales at about nine grams. With its tail held perfectly erect, the feisty little bird often chips loudly at intruders. Winter Wrens also bob their heads almost continuously and tend to hang out near water, often inhabiting dense, dark thickets.

Although the Winter Wren is small, in proportion to its size and weight, the call of the Winter Wren is 10 times louder than that of a crowing rooster. On average, Winter Wren’s sings between 16 - 36 notes per second.

Their scientific name is taken from the Greek word "troglodytes" (from "trogle" a hole, and "dyein" to creep), meaning "cave-dweller", and refers to its habit of disappearing into cavities or crevices while hunting spiders or where it builds its nests. A Winter Wren nest is typically in an old stump, woodpecker cavity, or rock crevice, with a roof over the cup.

Mid-Michigan has 5 species of wrens at some point of the year. The House Wren and Carolina Wren are the most common at bird feeders during the summer. The Sedge Wren and Marsh Wren are also common summer residents in mid-Michigan but reside mainly in marshy areas. The Winter Wren just passes through and I’m glad you had a chance to see this cutey!

1 comment:

Nicole said...

What a cute sweetie :D!