Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Nature Guide: Carolina Wren

You can hear the exuberant song of the Carolina Wren, Thryothorus ludovicianus, in our neighborhood now. These wrens, about the size of a small sparrow, are fairly common in the East. They are very sensitive to cold weather, however, Their appearance can decrease after severe winters with low temperatures and heavy snowfall, so I feel fortunate to have had this one visiting my deck in Princeton Landing over the past couple of weeks.

In addition to its loud, clear song (tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea or chirpity, chirpity, chirpity, chirp), you can tell a Carolina Wren by its warm reddish-brown upperparts, buff underparts, conspicuous white eyebrow stripe and frequently upturned tail. Its bill is slightly arched, and Its wings and tail are dark brown barred with white flecks.

Carolina Wrens may mate for life and pairs defend territories year-round. They usually forage in pairs and their diet consists largely of insects and spiders.

The Carolina Wren inhabits the brushy undergrowth and thickets of both open woods and suburban gardens. It prefers moist areas, which is probably why it likes my yard — in spite of the proximity to the Loop Road.