Thursday, July 12, 2007

One Day Wonder: Sedge Wren

Thursday, July 12, 2007

On Monday morning, Julie was up with the dawn and heard a strange bird song coming from out in the meadow. Because she has a mind like a steel trap, she immediately recognized the singer as a sedge wren--a species we heard almost every day recently while birding in North Dakota.

This is a very rare visitor to our dry, ridgetop farm. We've had only one or two other records--both in fall.

She did what any avid bird watcher would do, she grabbed her binocs, camera, put on her Wellies, and woke me up.

"There's a SEDGE WREN singing in the meadow. I'm going to try to find it!"

Sure enough, as soon as I staggered out into the cool morning air, I heard the wren's staccato song from about 50 yards out the meadow path. I grabbed binocs and followed Julie's footprints in the dew out the upper meadow path toward the bird.

We soon found it singing from the base of a cherry sapling growing near an old snag we'd erected years ago as a bluebird perch. There's a little clump of cherry tree saplings in this spot surrounding the snag. The saplings are only growing there in the middle of our meadow because a bird (or several birds--maybe our bluebirds) ate some cherries and stopped on the snag. While there, the bird or birds pooped. The cherry stones, scarified by the bird's digestive tract, hit the soil ready to root and grow. The saplings, about three feet tall, are still present because I can't mow that close to the snag with the bush-hog and tractor.

What a happy coincidence that this is where the sedge wren chose to set up camp.

He sang and sang and even moved up to the topmost branch where the light was perfect for photography. Julie began snapping off frames with her digital camera. My camera was sitting in my camera bag, in two pieces, still packed away from our Maine trip.

"Go get your camera, B! the bird is REALLY cooperative!"
"It's all the way in the house, by the time I get back here, he'll be gone...."
"Don't be silly. GO GET YOUR CAMERA!"
So I sighed, and did.

And I'm glad Julie insisted.

The sedge wren stayed in the same area for the next hour. And as the light got better, we snapped a few hundred frames each, switching modes, settings, trying to get at least one good shot of this tiny bird.

I made some calls to birding friends but no one could make it out on such short notice. The wren sang in bursts for the rest of the day. The next morning he was gone.

Late summer and early autumn here on Indigo Hill are the birdiest time of year, better even than a May morning in many ways. There are lots more birds, their numbers swollen with birds of the year, and there are lots more surprises. Post-breeding wanderers, misguided fledglings (which we think our sedge wren was), and unpredictable visitors are the norm at this time of year.

It's a good time of year to get up early to listen and watch. You never know what's going to turn up.


On July 12, 2007 at 3:28 PM Rondeau Ric said...

The earl birder gets the rarity

Great photos.

On July 12, 2007 at 7:57 PM Anonymous said...

"Late summer and early autumn are the best time for birding here at Indigo Hill."

START YOUR OWN BIRD WEEKEND! Think of it. You already have a fantastic following of birders (and novices -- I raise my hand) from your blog. You don't have to travel (no jet lag or hotel fees!). And you'd satisfy many blogging followers by giving them a taste of your bounty. Plus Chet Baker can even give a talk.

Just a suggestion.

Wayne, PA

On July 12, 2007 at 8:41 PM Anonymous said...

"Late summer and early autumn are the best times for birding here at Indigo Hill."

That would be about the end of August through early October, right?

On July 12, 2007 at 10:59 PM Susan Gets Native said...

Well, how about that?
See? Listening to your wife is a good thing.

On July 12, 2007 at 11:03 PM ocean and forest walks said...

Nice pics of the sedge wren. Really nice blog.

On July 12, 2007 at 11:55 PM Angel said...

It must have been nice to wake up to the song of a bird in the morning.

On July 12, 2007 at 11:56 PM Anonymous said...

Double wow on the photos. Wish I had been home. I would have loved to have joined you. You got some stunning photos!


On July 13, 2007 at 6:51 AM Jayne said...

What a wonderful find and what even better photos of that little jewel!

On July 18, 2007 at 7:51 AM Mary said...

Wow. That bird *is* a little jewel. It's good thing you took Julie's advice.

On November 20, 2009 at 6:03 AM Anonymous said...

Hello Bill, I an looking for a picture of a wren to hang on my wall. Is it possible to buy one of your pictures? It is not meant for publication. my address is cheers. arjen