Print

Print


The following is a discussion of the recent history of the MARSH WREN in 
Tallahassee and surrounding area and is posted on behalf of Gail Menk.

"On 4 Oct. I recorded a MARSH WREN at Lake Jackson's Crowder Landing in 
the first cattail grove leftwards of said landing from where said bird 
has confronted/scolded me from the exact same spot on several subsequent 
outings.  I assume that this Wren is one of two strictly inland 
subspecies from the upper United States where I have encountered such in 
New York during summer:  Won't go out on a limb, however, and specify 
which subspecies.
Marsh Wrens are of course present all year round along the coastal Big 
Bend whereas Leon County's subspecies hightails it to breed up north 
probably by end of May.  My latest spring record is on 9 May 2005, also 
near Crowder Landing where it sang with abandon.  My earliest fall 
record is 3 Oct. 1999 at Faulk Drive Landing where I was delighted to 
count 4 inditivuals occupying the same small bush on 2 Nov. 1995.

HISTORY:  Other than on Christmas Counts, I have found in the literature 
only 4 records of the species in Leon County between 11 Oct. 1947 and 
winter of 1947 including one on the rather early date of 27 Sep. 1949.  
Only 7 individuals were tallied on ten Tallahassee Christmas Counts 
during 1946-55, and as of 1975, I can reference but 2 additional 
records, both WCTV Tower kills, on 21 Sep. 1962 and 15 May 1963.  From 
23 Oct. 1976 - 19 Jan. 1981, Henry M. Stevenson and I recorded 17 
individuals on 7 fall/winter dates and HMS was to remark that "the 
species only winters rather rarely in Leon County".  I would postulate, 
however, that such dearth of records during the above time period could 
be attributed to birders' unfamilarity with the species, relatively few 
birders in the field as well as their failure to report records.

During the first 10 Tallahassee Christmas Counts beginning in 1989, 
Marsh Wren counts were 0 - 1 - 6 - 1 - 1 - 8 - 7 - 6 - 4 - 4.  Nine 
individuals during the first 5 counts compared to 29 during the 
succeeding 5 must mean something and suggests that birders involved had 
by then learned to search for such wrens in more appropriate lakeside 
habitat.    Delving even further back historically,it is with great 
interest I note that the accomplished ornithologist Ludlow Griscom did 
not list Marsh Wrens on 4 Christmas counts at Horseshoe Plantation 
during 1911-16 nor did Herbert L. Stoddard on 4 such counts in Leon's 
northern lake regions during 1924-27.  The fact that the species would 
elude these two astute ornithologists is strong evidence that the 
species was an esxtreme rarity or not even present county-wise during 
1911-27.

BACK TO PRESENT TIMES:  As of 27 Sep., I have dialoged with 3 or more 
Sedge Wrens (bless their little hearts) about a 5-minute farther sojourn 
from that cattail grove referred to at the beginning of this posting - 
"Tsit-tsit" - "pish-pish" - always fun for me to so dialog - while other 
dickey birds vied for my attention, also American Bitterns.  Indeed, 
Marsh Wrens and Bitterns seem to go together and last spring/summer 6 or 
more LEAST BITTERNS were seen flying helter-skelter in the general area.

RE CATTAILS:  I have been advised that emerging cattails here and there 
is likely an indication of "creeping" ecological degradation.  If so, 
sobeit saith the Marsh Wren, as I note that said bird seems to welcome 
such degradation which has afforded it cozy winter habitat in recent 
years, witness such retention ponds as those at Tallahassee's Maryland 
Circle and Edison Drive, also the cattail infested confines of Black 
Swamp Nature Preserve where Rob Lengacher saw and heard a male winter 
hold-over singing gleefully several springtimes ago.

VOCALIZATIONS:  I once probably confused through sheer ignorance that 
low "tsuck" note of the Marsh Wren with similar vocalizations of the 
House Wren but have since concluded that HABITAT (cattails and the like) 
accompanied by that "tsuck" note in said habitat are coessential clues 
to identification of the species before it is actually seen.  I can't 
relate to Sibley's call note of "tek" but can abide Kaufmann's 
"chuk-chuk" and the "te-suk-te-suk" as submitted in the Smithsonian Life 
Histories.  But I have noticed more and more that hearing of birders can 
vary; hence, "tsuck", "tek", "chuk-chuk", "te-suk-te-suk", take your pick!

CONCLUDING QUESTION:  Why have I heard of no other inland reports of 
Marsh Wrens this fall?  I've recorded two."

               Gail E.Menk

Keith MacVicar
Tallahassee  FL

____________________________________________________________________________
FLORIDABIRDS-L Listserv mailing list information:
Member  photos  I:  http://bkpass.tripod.com/floridabirds.htm
Member  photos II:  http://floridabirds-l.50megs.com
For archives:  http://lists.ufl.edu/archives/floridabirds-l.html
Set nomail: Click:  mailto:[log in to unmask] Type: Set floridabirds-L nomail
Listowner: Click:  mailto:[log in to unmask]