Bewick’s Wren

Thryomanes bewickii
Range Map

The Bewick’s Wren is a western bird that lives in thickets, open woodlands and scrubby areas, often near streams. Their appearance most closely resembles the Carolina Wren of the east. In past times, the Bewick’s Wren ranged over most of North America. Scientists believe that the rapid expansion of the House Wren is responsible for the decline of the Bewick’s Wren, which is now relegated to lands west of the Mississippi Valley.

Science recognises 15 subspecies of Bewick’s Wrens. Two island members of this tribe are extinct due to overgrazing by sheep and goats. In San Diego County, where I’m from, T. b. correctus is the expected subspecies, while in eastern California, we expect T. b. eremophilus. In fact, there are seven subspecies named for California alone. Researchers describe some subspecies as grayer (SW California), or more reddish-brown (eastern populations), or browner (Pacific coast). We have also described call notes and other vocalizations to differentiate the subspecies.

The 15 subspecies of Bewick’s Wren are:

  • T. b. bewickii breeds from Kansas and Iowa east through Ontario and Ohio, to Pennsylvania and south to Arkansas east through Alabama and South Carolina. Formerly, its range included most of the eastern USA.
  • T. b. pulichi lives in the southern Great Plains including Kansas, Oklahoma, and northern Texas, and perhaps into western Missouri.
  • T. b. cryptus lives from Colorado through Oklahoma, central, and southern Texas to northeastern Mexico.
  • T. b. sadai lives on the Gulf slope from south Texas to central Tamaulipas (Mexico).
  • T. b. eremophilus lives from eastern California, southern Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado, south to northern Mexico.
  • T. b. mexicanus lives in south-central Mexico.
  • T. b. calophonus lives from southern British Columbia to northern California and east to southern-central Washington.
  • T. b. marinensis lives along the coast of California south through Marin County.
  • T. b. spilurus lives along the central California coast from San Francisco south to Monterey.
  • T. b. drymoecus lives east of the Coast Ranges from Oregon south through the California’s Central Valley.
  • T. b. charienturus lives in southwestern California, from Morro Bay south and including on the Channel Islands, and south to northern Baja California.
  • T. b. leucophrys was a former resident on San Clemente Island, California, but is now extinct.
  • T. b. cerroensis lives on the Pacific slope of the central Baja California peninsula and some islands offshore.
  • T. b. magdalenensis lives in southwestern Baja California.
  • T. b. brevicauda was a former resident on Guadalupe Island (Mexico), but is now extinct.

While visiting Texas, I briefly met the Bewick’s Wren, but I was unsuccessful at capturing images on the occasion. Most of my meetings have been near my southern California home, but I’ve also met them further north in California, in Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico.

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