Friday, October 07, 2005

Ramblings about Wrens

(Winter Wren)

Despite colder temperatures and windy conditions, I checked Pheasant Branch Conservancy on my way home from work last evening. There were a few more Fox Sparrows present, several White-throated Sparrows but I was unable to find a single White-crowned Sparrow. An unsatisfactory look at a Winter Wren got me thinking about wrens relative to my attempts to photograph them.

Wrens are very difficult subjects to image. They're so small, fast and super-sneaky. They seem to be aware of every little move I make in the field, even a slowly raised hand going for the shutter button. I've never used taped songs to lure them in, relying more on a good location and waiting them out for that luck-chance "pop out of the habitat and check you out" look.

Several times this past spring I set out early in the morning on a mission to snap a better picture of a Winter Wren. Along PBC's stream corridor, I could hear them singing on and on, but when following to the apparent location the wren would next sing from where I had just moved from...very sneaky. I know they nest at Baxter's Hollow so maybe next spring I'll try my luck there. But I don't know the ground as well at Baxter's (it is a lot like military strategy, you see).

I have never even framed a Carolina Wren in the LCD of my digital camera. This year there has been an influx of Carolina Wrens in Dane County. I suspect a pair nested along the city stream corridor of Pheasant Branch Conservancy, but I haven't bothered to seek them out for pictures just yet.

(Marsh Wren)

I think the Marsh Wren has to be the most duplicitous of the wrens. I hear them all the time at Nine Springs and Horicon Marsh, but getting a good view of one it decent lighting is very tough. The one quality shot I have is of an immature bird, but it's still one of my all-time favorite wren images...perched atop a cattail in golden morning light. Would an adult Marsh Wren perch like that? I think not. They're far too clever for anything so obvious.

(Sedge Wren)

Until this fall migration I had only obtained mediocre shots of Sedge Wrens. It's neat how clearing out the dogwood in favor of sedge habitat at Pheasant Branch Conservancy brought in dozens of nesting Sedge Wrens this past spring/summer. Repetition and destiny finally delivered the best opportunity I've ever had for any wren species with the series I captured in September of this year.

(House Wren)

I have more House Wren pictures than of any other wren species, and yet so few of them I've bothered to post-process and publish on my website. Why? They're still wrens even if they are more ubiquitous than the other wren species found in Wisconsin. I suppose there's something subconscious about the lack of photographic challenge they offer as backyard nesters. Still, I know that if the House Wrens failed to return to my yard in the spring they would be sorely missed.

"There to the brooding bird her mate
Warbles by fits his low clear song;
And by the busy streamlet both
Are sung to all day long. "

(from "A Wren's Nest" by William Wordsworth)

All wren images © Michael Allen McDowell

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