|Species: Bewick’s Wren
Although present year-round in much of western and south-central US,
the Bewick’s Wren (pronounced like Buick’s) is found, in Western
Canada, only in Southwestern BC (e.g., southern Vancouver Island,
Vancouver region, Howe Sound, Fraser Valley to Hope). It is also
present (but rare) in the extreme south of Ontario (eg., Point
Pelee). It is a permanent resident and does not migrate.
It is a secretive brown bird of brushy habitats and thickets in
urban areas, farmland and open woods, quite often first recognized
by its far-carrying song or buzzy scold notes.
General: Characteristics are typical of a wren such as the
small size, cocked tail barred on upper parts, narrow head and long
slender bill. More slender than other wrens, with longer neck, and
longer tail, that is constantly flicked up or sideways.
Adult: Male and Female similar. Relatively clean, unmarked plumage
and long white supercilium (eyebrow) distinctive. Underparts grey
with sides and flanks tinged with brown; underwing grey; throat
pale; sides of neck grey. Crown, nape and back brown. Auriculars
faintly barred grey and brown. Bill grey, relatively long and
slightly downcurved. Tail barred with speckled white corners.
Undertail coverts grey with dark barring.
Juvenile (Apr – Aug): Generally similar to adult, except
breast faintly barred, and barring on undertail coverts absent.
Similar species: In the Pacific region only likely to be
confused with Winter Wren or possibly Marsh Wren, but the latter is
found in different habitat (marsh and reeds). Winter Wren is
smaller, more uniformly brown above and below, has a shorter, more
buffy supercilium, thin dark bill, and keeps the much smaller tail
cocked with no flicking up, down or sideways.
Behaviour: Forages low or on the ground in thickets and
undergrowth for insects and fruit. Flight when flushed is short and
erratic on rounded wings.
Habitat: Open woods, farmland and urban areas in brushy areas and
Information: This is the only species of its genus
Thryomanes. Interestingly, it is named for Thomas Bewick (1753 –
1828) a north of England ornithologist, bird illustrator and wood
engraver, though the bird is not found in Britain or Europe. He is
also commemorated in Bewick’s Swan (Cygnus columbianus bewickii),
the Eurasian version of our Tundra Swan.
The Bewick’s Wren is present year round in the Vancouver area and is
a fairly common resident, though easily overlooked because of its
skulking nature. It nests in cavities or in dense brush piles, and
will utilize old woodpecker holes, knotholes in fallen trees, and
birdboxes. The nest is of leaves, straw and other debris and lined
with feathers or other soft material. Normally, 4 – 7 spotted eggs
are laid. The song is variable with opening notes high, followed by
lower burry notes and ending on a thin trill, frequently like swee,
swee, cheeeeee, somewhat reminiscent of a Song Sparrow.
There is considerable regional variation in its song and in its
plumage, with the upperparts of eastern birds being overall richer
brown and those of the southwestern US much more grey.
Although the conservation status of Bewick’s Wren is listed as LC
(Least Concern) there has been severe declines of the species in the
eastern United States. It is suspected that the House Wren, which
frequently removes eggs from nests in cavities, has been directly
responsible for the decline. The increased availability of nest
boxes may have helped the spread of the House Wren, and consequently
the decline of the Bewick's Wren.
As a resident species with two broods a possibility, capture
rates (2010-2012; standardized as birds captured per 100 net
hours) of Bewick's Wren span spring through fall when the
birds are most active and peak in July/August then again in
October reflecting juvenile dispersal.