Marsh Wren

Cistothorus palustris

We can find Marsh Wrens during some part of the calendar year, across most of the North American continent, from southern Canada to southern Mexico. They spend winters 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.

Some describe the Marsh Wren’s song as “a loud gurgle”. These suitably named birds make 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. Males may build over 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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