When a Wren Isn’t Just a Wren

I’m having some serious concerns about a race I have this Sunday.  It’s time for the annual IVS Half Marathon in the hills of Springdale Cemetery.  Even when I’m healthy this race can take its toll on me, evident by last year’s struggle in the frying pan (link here).  Unfortunately I fell victim to the Peoria Plague last Saturday and I just can’t seem to shake it.  This week was a big project at work which didn’t give me much time to nurse it, so it sunk its teeth in deep.  Hit my last 12+ miler last Friday, missed my 8 miles taper last Sunday, did hit my 6 mile taper Tuesday but felt like crap afterwards and then decided against the 4  mile run  scheduled for yesterday.  Suck Suck Suck.  Topping it off I messed up my back sometime this week .. Suck Suck Double Suck.  I worked from home today to force myself to keep down and opted for a quick adjustment at the chiro in an attempt to get that calmed down.  Back feels much better now (legs were an inch off.. would have been running in circles ha) and some light at the end of the tunnel on the plague.  I primarily breathe through my mouth during the run so that mitigates some of the stuffiness.  One more day of doing nothing (which absolutely kills me) and hopefully my temple will be whole again – keeping the fingers crossed.  Figured I’d crank out a happy post to keep my mind off of the race.

Noticed this bird while reviewing the Red Rock Canyon shots in the digital darkroom.  I initially passed it off as a House Wren and set it to the side noting the execution on the shots was less than stellar.  I have them around here anyway and even featured one during Project Chekov (link here).

At the time I didn’t really think much about it until one day I was looking through the bird references when I came to the House Wren section.  Something caught my eye which made me hesitate a bit.  Something was amiss but couldn’t put my finger on it.  Tail up, wings sharp and down.  Even had the spotting on the wings and tail feathers.  Nothing to strange but the spidy senses were on full on alert.  What the hell?  Decided there was a kink in the system and started turning the page….and then it came to me.  Quickly flipping back to the House Wren confirmed my deduction.  The page I turned to featured the Bewick’s Wren.

Find out the details on this bird after the jump!

Guess what is so interesting about the Bewick’s Wren… Eye’ll give you a hint, the House Wren doesn’t have a prominent one of these.  Figured it out yet?  The specimen here has a very prominent white eyebrow (I all but gave it away in my hint misspelling).  Guess what high tailed, spotted tail and winged creature does… that’s right, this featured bird I believe is a Bewick’s Wren.  I saw two different region maps for this birds – on in my reference book has it Summering in the Nevada area, but Cornell’s site has the outline of Nevada cut out of their Summer region.  Find it hard to believe a bird stops at the specific boundaries of a state.

As mentioned, the shots are a little soft and likely due to me also dismissing the differentiation out in the field – clicking a few quick shots and moving on.  Glad I have a rule of at least taking one shot of every bird I come across on a shoot otherwise I would have missed this great find.  How about some quick facts about this bird.  Cornell mentions they “favor dry brushy areas” which I can confirm having found them in a DESERT!  The decline of this bird in the East is directly attributable to the House Wren’s explosion in that region (apparently they have a tendency to removes eggs from nests – bad birdy, verrry bad birrdy!).  It is named after engraver Thomas Bewick who found the first specimen.  He was a friend  of famous birder John James Audubon.  Cornell provided this quirky comment from Audubon “Audubon saw another and wrote, ‘I refrained from killing it, in order to observe its habits.'”  Well how special.  How about we not kill any of them and just observe them.  Reminds of the Bryson book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, where he describes the killing of the first sightings of the Dodo bird.  They were fascinated that the flocks of birds would scatter after being blasted at and then reform back where they originally were – in which they commented on how stupid that was and then felt obligated to blast again and again until the entire flock was dead – pretty sickening.  It was also noted they are extremely hyper, darting about here and there.  This is pretty consistent with Wrens in general and to be honest the likely reason these shots are a little soft  – tough to get a bead on a tiny caffeinated bird with The Beast.

That’s all folks.  Hope you enjoyed reading about this bird as much as I enjoyed putting the new check mark in the ol’ birding list.

3 thoughts on “When a Wren Isn’t Just a Wren”

  1. This is a new bird to me, too, thanks.

    I used to be struck that Audubon would kill birds to draw them, but then I thought, How can he draw them in detail when they won’t stay still?? He did more good to save birds by killing one or two to draw them. So I don’t mind. The Dodo birds, well that’s another story.



  2. Still not a fan of that whole kill thingy. Makes me appreciate my reference books based on photos that much better. Now every time I open the Audubon book I’m going to looking at a bunch of dead birds … ugh

    Long live the Dodo – wait… don’t we have a couple hundred of them in Congress at the moment?


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