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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is an educator, bird watcher, and writer fascinated by the intersections of place, people, nature, and culture. He works for Mass Audubon and lives in the heart of Massachusetts. For questions or comments please contact:

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