Monday, August 04, 2014

Meet the Sedge Wrens!

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.

~ John Muir


I birded the prairie parcel and creek corridor of Pheasant Branch Conservancy for several hours yesterday. It was nice to see a young Sora foraging along the bank of the first retention pond, but an even bigger surprise was finding a nearby Sedge Wren family consisting of both parents and at least three fledged young.

Up until a few weeks ago I was only aware of a couple Sedge Wrens on territory, but they were on the other side of the prairie near the big springs. By song activity, the two male wrens near the ponds appeared to be recent arrivals. However, if that's true there seems to be no way they could have fledged young in just a couple of weeks. The secretive Sedge Wren continues to be a bird of riddles. For me, this development propels their mystique even deeper.


  • Nest-building begins 2 weeks after first arrival.
  • Nest construction takes approximately 1 week.
  • Females begin laying 1 egg daily after the 3rd day of nest-lining.
  • Incubation starts before clutch is complete.
  • Hatching extends over a 2 to 3 day period.
  • Young leave the nest 12 to 14 days of age.

Though I did not hear any singing males at this particular spot until July 20th, they were either already present and well under way or this entire family of Sedge Wrens dispersed from one location to another. The latter seems unlikely. It's a distance of ~630 yards from the big springs, but these birds are an enigma ... so maybe. I suppose it's also possible that the adult Sedge Wrens arrived during during late May while I was still birding the creek corridor for warblers. But that doesn't seem to quite link with the late prairie burn this year and the specific habitat structure requirement of these birds. What happened during June? Why was Sedge Wren song absent at the ponds during that period of time? Is it possible I missed them during 18 visits to the prairie? It's a mystery to me, but one that's soluble with a greater time commitment and more careful observation.

Sedge Wren (male)

Sedge Wren (female)

Sedge Wren (juvenile)

Common Arrowhead (female flower)

Common Arrowhead (male flower)

Orange Jewelweed

Later on in the morning, Mark Johnson arrived on the scene to photograph insects, but I informed him that I hadn't been seeing very much. We decided to try the creek corridor for Peacock Flies and whatever hoppers we could find. Our initial search was disappointing and we nearly left the area, but with a second effort we soon discovered several different kinds of planthoppers, leafhoppers, and treehoppers. The Citrus flatid Planthopper was a new species for me, but the Buffalo Treehopper is one of my favorite insects.

Acanalonia Planthopper

Citrus flatid Planthopper

Buffalo Treehopper

Two-horned Treehopper

Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Aug 3, 2014 6:00 AM - 10:00 AM
60 species

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Ring-necked Pheasant
Great Blue Heron
Red-tailed Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Spotted Sandpiper
Solitary Sandpiper
Wilson's Phalarope
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Willow Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Sedge Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2014 Mike McDowell

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