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Birds of the St. Croix River Valley: Minnesota and Wisconsin

FAMILY TROGLODYTIDAE

Wrens


House Wren -- Winter Wren -- Bewick's Wren -- Carolina Wren -- Long-billed Marsh Wren -- Short-billed Marsh Wren

House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)

Status: Regular migrant and nesting species.

Migration: Common migrant throughout the Valley. Spring migrants arrive in the Western Upland 20-25 April (earliest-15 April 1978, St. Croix County) and reach the Northern Highland about 25 April. Peak spring migration occurs 1-10 May. Peak fall migration occurs 25 August to 15 September and departure by 10 October.

Nesting Season Distribution: Breeding Bird Survey data (Table 5) show that this is the most numerous wren in the Valley during the nesting season and that relative abundance is similar throughout the Valley. Jackson (1943) observed that the house wren was a common nesting species throughout northwestern Wisconsin. Goddard (1972) found that house wrens were the third most abundant breeding species in the Kinnickinnic River Valley, Pierce County. Mean density in that area was 36.1 pairs per 40 ha.

Habitat: A characteristic species of several deciduous forest communities including Southern Deciduous Forest, Old Field Community, Northern Hardwood Forest, Lowland Deciduous Forest, and Deciduous Clear Cut. Also important are edge habitats including forest-agricultural field borders, brushy road ditches, and brushy fencerows. Jackson (1943) found house wrens "especially abundant" in burns and cut-over land. This species has adapted well to ornamental plantings in residential areas and is a familiar "back yard" bird, responding especially well to artificial cavities.


Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)

Status: Regular migrant and nesting species, two winter records.

Migration: Uncommon migrant throughout the Valley. Spring migrants arrive in the Western Upland 30 March to 10 April, reaching the Northern Highland 10- 15 April (earliest-27 March 1942, Burnett County; Feeney 1942). Peak spring migration through the Valley occurs 15 April to 1 May and departure from non-nesting areas occurs by 10 May. Fall migration begins in late August and the first migrants arrive in the Western Upland 10-15 September. Peak fall abundance occurs 25 September to 15 October and departure by 1 November.

Nesting Season Distribution: Uncommon nesting species restricted primarily to the Northern Highland (Table 5). Hofslund (1952) reported a nest with four young at Solon Springs, Douglas County. Rare and casual elsewhere during the nesting season. Green and Janssen (1975) mentioned summer records but no broods from Washington County. Several recent records suggest that the winter wren is probably established as a nesting species in northeastern Chisago County. Longley (1973b) reported winter wrens along Lawrence Creek, Chisago County, on 9 June 1973, and Bratlie (1976) observed a winter wren nest at the same location on 16 June 1976.

Winter: There are two records (1 January 1968 and 1973) from the St. Croix County portion of the Afton CBC.

Habitat: The winter wren is a characteristic nesting species of Lowland Coniferous Forest dominated by black spruce, balsam fir, and yellow birch. The Chisago County nesting area was described by Longley (1973b) as a hardwood forest consisting of sugar maple, yellow birch, American elm, ash, white pine, and red pine.


Bewick's Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)

Status: Casual migrant and summer resident.

Records: S. D. Robbins observed Bewick's wrens near North Hudson, St. Croix County, on four occasions: 5-17 May 1963; 13 May 1964; 7 May 1965; and 17 June 1961. Green and Janssen (1975) mentioned that Bewick's wren had been observed during the summer in Washington County.


Carolina Wren (Thyrothorus ludovicianus)

Status: Casual migrant, nesting species, and winter visitor.

Migration Records: Roberts (1938) reported the observation of a single Carolina wren at Woodbury, Washington County, on 30 May 1935. One was observed at St. Croix Falls, Polk County (no date), during 1940 (Kumlien and Hollister 1951). I found one along the Kinnickinnic River, Pierce County, on 26 April 1977. S. D. Robbins found one near Roberts, St. Croix County, on 3 May 1965 (Faanes and Goddard 1976). Olyphant (1972) caught and banded a Carolina wren in Washington County on 26 October 1971. This bird remained in the area through at least 4 January 1972.

Winter: One Carolina wren was reported on the Afton CBC in Washington County on 1 January 1974 (Eckert 1974). W. Gantenbein observed single Carolina wrens at Osceola, Polk County, during December 1965 to 13 January 1966 (Hilsenhoff 1966), and December 1966 to 14 January 1967.

Nesting Season Distribution: Green and Janssen (1975) reported that Carolina wrens have nested in Washington County. In 1938, two Carolina wrens were observed at St. Croix Falls by S. Owen from 15 April to 4 September. During the summer of 1938, several unsuccessful nest searches were made but on 2 and 3 July the adults were seen with four fully grown young.

Habitat: Primarily a species of Lowland Deciduous Forest and adjacent edge habitats.


Long-billed Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris)

Status: Regular migrant and nesting species.

Migration: Fairly common migrant in the Western Upland and Central Plain, uncommon to rare and local in the Northern Highland. Spring migrants arrive in the Western Upland 25-30 April and the Northern Highland 1-5 May. Peak abundance during spring migration occurs 10-20 May. Fall migration begins in late August. Peak abundance in the Western Upland occurs 5-15 September and departure by 15 October.

Nesting Season Distribution: Uncommon and local nesting species in the Western Upland and Central Plain, rare and local in the Northern Highland. Evidence of nesting has been obtained in Burnett, Chisago, Polk, St. Croix, and Washington counties.

Habitat: A characteristic nesting species of seasonally, semipermanently, and permanently flooded wetlands. Principal vegetation associated with long-billed marsh wren nesting habitat includes cattail, hardstem bulrush, river bulrush, burreed, and phragmites. This species nests in reduced numbers along the edges of more acidic northern Forest Bordered Wetlands and in emergent vegetation along rivers.


Short-billed Marsh Wren (Cistothorus platensis)

Status: Regular migrant and nesting species.

Migration: Common migrant in the Western Upland and Central Plain, uncommon and local in the Northern Highland. Spring migrants arrive in the Western Upland 25-30 April and the Northern Highland 1-5 May. Peak spring migration through the Valley occurs 15 May to 5 June. Fall migration begins during early August with a gradual exodus from nesting areas. Peak fall migration occurs 25 August to 10 September and departure by 1 October.

Nesting Season Distribution: Common to abundant nesting species in the Western Upland and Central Plain, uncommon and local in the Northern Highland. Breeding Bird Survey data (Table 5) suggest that the greatest abundance occurs in the Central Plain.

Habitat: In the Central Plain and Northern Highland, the species is found in Northern Sedge Meadow dominated by tussock sedge, manna grass, and bluejoint grass. In the Western Upland, breeding pairs are frequently encountered in Shrub Carr Wetlands. During dry years, this wren also uses alfalfa and timothy hayfields, Managed Grasslands, and occasionally Old Field Community.


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