02 February 2010

The Creature from the Flooded Woods

The Louisiana Ornithological Society (LOS) field trip stared into the tangled, fallen mass of trunks. A chatter call erupted from the flooded timber, announcing the presence of an impossibly small bird for such a loud sound. Soon, the bird became visible to us all: an Eastern Winter Wren, a lifer for me and Kevin Morgan! The bird scurried up a trunk, checking out the loose bark and branch tangles for food. The bird was noticeably paler than the two other Winter Wrens I had seen in the United States before, confirming its Eastern identity.

The only other times I have seen Winter Wren in the United States it has been the "Western (Pacific)" Wren, two migrant birds observed in different years in the vicinity of Connected Lakes State Park in Grand Junction, Colorado. These birds are told apart by being noticeably darker and possessing a different song from their Eastern cousins. Recent studies show that are probably different species, and in the coming years will probably be split into two separate species. It will be interesting to see how many species the "Winter Wren" becomes in the future. It is currently the only wren known from the Old World, and studies may prove that the population I saw in Ireland and other scattered European, Asian and North African populations are isolated species of their own.

Again, I apologize for the brief post, but school has been keeping me busy. I will try to post more things (and more interesting things) in the near future. Until then, good birding!

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