December 15, 2010

carolina wren

It’s December in New England and the cold air is here, the trees have lost their leaves, and the woods are quiet. Yet, even now a few brave and hardy birds are singing. One of these winter songsters is the Carolina Wren. No larger than a mouse, the Carolina wren, as the name implies, is a southern species that has made a home in these Yankees climes over the past several decades. With its creamy buff belly and rich, leather brown back, stiff tail, and a striking white line above its eye (known as a supercilium) the Carolina Wren can be heard singing its clear, bright song from a waist high vantage point like a fence post or trash can. Its spring and summer song is transcribed as the repetitive phrase: “tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea” but in the winter it is more often heard giving a clear, watery trill. In comparison to many of the New England backyard birds the Carolina Wren sounds like an alto saxophone rising above an orchestra of penny whistles and with a varied repertoire of songs and calls, the quality of sound is a good clue to knowing that you are hearing one of these southern musicians.

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