Thursday, November 24, 2016

Crops & Clips: Marsh Wrens

Back home in Florida, we were treated to a very colorful sky about 7 minutes after sunrise on November 23. The sun had just touched the opposite shore. This is straight out of the camera. The image is not cropped or processed:

Sunrise plus 7 minutes SOOC 20161123

Ruby-throated Hummingbird hovering over Firebush (Hamelia patens):

Ruby-throated Hummingbird 03-20161119

Eastern Phoebe perching on a guard rail:

Eastern Phoebe 20161110

I enjoy the challenge of photographing LBBs (little brown birds), the smallest of which are the wrens. Seeing them requires patience and often long periods of watchful waiting.

I first sighted a Marsh Wren in Troy Meadows, New Jersey as a teenager back in May of 1949, when I participated in a "Big Day" with the Hackensack Audubon Society. It was then called "Long-billed Marsh Wren" to distinguish it from the diminutive prairie-dwelling "Short-billed Marsh Wren," which since 1982 has been known as the Sedge Wren. I would not see the latter species until November, 1951 when, at Moriches Bay and Inlet in Long Island,  I joined a group of birders from Long Island, New York, led energetically by Allan Cruickshank. (He passed away in 1974. Here is his obituary in American Birds). 

Group outings can produce large numbers of sightings. For a relatively new birder this can be quite overwhelming. The single day at Troy Meadows and environs yielded 23 new birds species to my life list, and the trip to Long Island added 15 species. I must admit that I do not have indelible memories of either of these wren sightings. Although the trips and places are still relatively fresh in my mind, some of the individual birds seem now to have been lost in the sea of discoveries. 

My more recent encounters with these species have been at a more personal level. Finding them took individual effort. With only two eyes to look for them instead of scores, and delightful long looks to enjoy not only their plumage and anatomical features as well as their habits, habitats and vocalizations, the experience is more meaningful and memorable.

This is my Marsh Wren "sit spot" in our local birding patch. It is conveniently situated near the lake next to a Pond Cypress. A young Pond Apple tree is visible to the left and the "Pine Bank" (a dense stand of Australian Pine) is in the distance across the lake. Two large clumps of Sawgrass are directly in front, and a large area of cattails, just to the right, extends out to the shoreline:

Marsh Wren sit spot HDR 20161119

While waiting for the wren, other wetland-associated birds may pop up, such as this Swamp Sparrow:

Swamp Sparrow HDR 01-20161122

It climbs a reed to get a better look at me..

Swamp Sparrow HDR 03-20161122

...and quickly exits:

Swamp Sparrow in flight HDR 20161122

In Illinois, I often caught snippets of the Marsh Wren's song or saw one weave in and out of the cattails in the distance. After taking up bird photography about 8 years ago I set a goal of capturing an image of every bird species I saw. 

My first close encounter with a Marsh Wren with camera at the ready occurred in September, 2014 in a cattail marsh in Geneva, Illinois. My photos aptly illustrate the connection between this species and its preferred habitat:

 Marsh Wren 01-20140929

Marsh Wren 2-20150831

Marsh Wren 03-20140929

This week I added the 169th species to the bird list for my neighborhood birding patch. Of these I have seen 162, and a few of the species reported by other observers are a bit suspect. This is the first photo of my local Marsh Wren (November 18, 2016):

Marsh Wren 3-20161118

I obtained better views the next day:

Marsh Wren 03-20161119

Marsh Wren 01-20161119

The Sedge Wren (11 cm long) is a half inch shorter than the Marsh Wren, which is 5 inches (13 cm) long. While I have seen a wintering Sedge Wren in Florida, it is a fairly common breeder near our second home in Illinois. It is usually found on dry ground such as a prairie, often next to or within sight of water. 

Very elusive, this little creature will not sit still for a photo. Here are a few of my favorite Sedge Wren portraits, all from Nelson Lake in Kane County, Illinois:

Sedge Wren 3-20090615

Sedge Wren 20100518

Sedge Wren 2-20100518

My latest image is a favorite as it best illustrates the wren's imitation of an Olympic parallel bar gymnast (Oct 18, 2016):

Sedge Wren 04-20161018

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone in the USA (and belated good wishes to our Canadian friends). I do not have a good turkey photo, but this week a Turkey Vulture obliged me by finding a dead squirrel on the sidewalk in front of our next door neighbor's home. I guess this bird was named because of its strong (?) resemblance to the real thing. (Click on the photo to navigate to some more rather explicit images of his feast):

Turkey Vulture 20161121

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa). 

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Today's Flowers Friday by Denise

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display


  1. Kenneth, I wish you and your wife are very happy Thanksgiving today. Please rinse must be really quite tricky to photograph that you have captured them all so well. You are a wonderful photographer and I always love visiting your blog

  2. thank you, kenneth, for your great link-ins and visits. always love your bird photography (and that opening scene is awesome!) i love your little brown birds and sweet shots. blessings to you, always, and continued good birding.

  3. A really gorgeous series of photos, Kenneth, and I love your header and background! Beautiful!

  4. Nice photos! I love the small bird! So cute!

  5. Oh, those wrens are so, so cute...I love birds, but my favorite has to be the Carolina Wren.

  6. Happy Thanksgiving--hope the day has been a good one for you.

  7. What amazing shots! That hummingbird is beautiful!

  8. Hello Ken!:) You give so much pleasure with your beautiful photography. Love your sunrise shot, and all the wren images are delightful. Happy Thanksgiving.:)

  9. oh wow your bird shots are superb . . .

  10. Lovely reflection, KCS, and your Thanksgiving hummingbird is quite the treat.

  11. Very scenic photo posted this week. Birds and more birds all in focus and beautifully done.

  12. Very romantic sunrise and beautiful bird shots. I like it.

  13. Hello ken, lovely sky and sunrise. The birds are all beautiful, I especially love all the cute wrens. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

  14. Lovely sunrise photo!
    Wrens are so cute! and acrobatic!
    Have a wonderful week-end!

  15. Terrific images of the little browns and interesting journal writings.

    Thanks for your efforts.

  16. Loved them all today...but I'm particularly excited to see the wonderful wren image!! Great captures.

  17. Love those wrens - especially the splits one!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  18. Great series of photos of some lovely feathery fellows!
    Thanks for sharing at

  19. Beautiful captures of these little brown treasures - especially the Olympic-splits stance - just gorgeous!

  20. Great shots! The parallel bar gymnast is remarkable!

  21. Another stunning series of bird captures Kenneth - thank you for sharing.... and that opening scene is spectacular!

  22. Splendid pictures! You must be very pleased with them. I do also love the one of the Olympic parallel bars wren. I don't have very keen eyesight so rarely even see a wren - the English ones are very tiny, too, as I am sure you know. AS for photographing one, I am sure it would be impossible.
    Those were beautiful cloud reflections and subtle colours in the first picture.

  23. Your wren photos are fabulous and should be in a book, and that little gymnast is an amazing capture!


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