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Marsh Wren

Cistothorus palustris

Across most of the North American continent, from southern Canada to southern Mexico, Marsh Wrens can be found during some part of the calendar year. Winters are spent between southern USA and Mexico, and they make summer homes between southern Canada and northern USA. Scattered throughout this range, in places like the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts, there are pockets where these birds will stay year-round. The Great Basin and parts of the Colorado Plateau are also locations where there are year-round resident birds.

The Marsh Wren’s song has been described as “a loud gurgle”. These suitably named, birds makes their homes wherever they find suitable wetlands. There are significant differences between the eastern and the western forms of this bird. Some believe them to be separate species.

The male Marsh Wren is a prolific nest builder. In a typical breeding season he will take two mates and build a half-dozen dummy nests for each female to choose one as her own. Some males have been observed building more than twenty nests in a single season.

In spring and summer it is easy to locate these small bundles of energy by simply listening during a visit to a suitable wetland habitat. I have enjoyed watching their acrobatic maneuvers, doing the splits on separate stems, and bouncing through the reeds with tails bent at an impossible angle over their backs while scolding all interlopers.

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